How Do I Find the Laws of Other Countries?

Starting Out: Finding Background Information

You should begin your foreign law research project by first finding some background information about the country’s legal system. This will give you an idea about the types of primary sources you will need to locate -- codes, court decisions, religious texts, etc. Listed below are two sources for this type of information.
Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World - This is a subscription site that is available in the library. It is an excellent source of information about the laws and legal systems of more than 170 countries.
This is a free web site that is maintained by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law. It has guides to the legal systems of more than 100 countries.

Finding the Text of Laws

Westlaw and LexisNexis
Westlaw provides access to the laws of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Some primary and secondary sources for other countries are available. Browse the WestlawNext International Materials database for available resources.


Making Of Modern Law: Foreign Primary Sources, 1600-1970
This collection consists of historical legal codes, statutes, regulations, and commentaries on codes from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other countries in northern Europe. Included are sources of historical statutes and regulations for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Making of Modern Law: Foreign Primary Sources is sourced from the law libraries of Yale, Harvard, and George Washington University.


Free Web Resources

Both GlobaLex and Foreign Law Guide, described above, will lead you to web sites that have the laws of a particular country. Additionally, the ASU Law Library maintains a list of foreign law sources as part of our International Law Portal. To see the full list, click here.

EUR-Lex will lead you to the laws of the European Union.  Additionally, N-Lex will lead you to the laws of the individual member states of the EU.


Inter-governmental Organizations & Non-governmental Organizations
Another type of source that you can use to locate foreign laws is the websites of related IGOs and NGOs. For example, copyright laws are provided by UNESCO; business laws by the World Bank; and labor laws by the International Labour Organization.

If All Else Fails -- Other Sources for Foreign Law

A final source for the text of foreign laws, or at least information about them, are books, journal articles, and news articles. Examples of books include Competition Law in China and Digest of Commercial Laws of the World. For help finding books and journal articles, see our guide How do I find articles and books on an international law topic?


updated 1/2015


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