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Foreign and Comparative Law Basics

Sources by Legal Subject Area

To find foreign law, you might search by jurisdiction. You can find specific statutes and cases, particularly if you have a citation already, or titles of statutes or names of cases. This approach allows you to find primary law and official sources. You might also find new laws to recent to appear in secondary sources. Unique search terms and specific topic areas make searching in primary databases more feasible.

However, the best approach to foreign and comparative law research might be to find sources on the legal topic or subject area rather than starting with the particular country you’re researching.  Many comparative law databases and websites are arranged by legal subject area.  There are  publications and databases that compile the laws of other countries on particular subjects.  These may include summaries of the law of that country in English, citations to primary law, excerpts or full-text of statutes, or links to statutes and codes of other countries.  There are also numerous books and treatises in the law library and the main campus library on the law of other countries in particular areas of the law, and these will  include citations and excerpts. These are all good choices for your research before you focus on primary sources.

Subject compilations may be treatises with chapters on particular jurisdictions, subject journals with issues on different countries, website lists with topical headings, or databases with country fields or filters. There are multiple subject resources with statutes listed by country. Subject resources may provide full-text of or links to statutes, or they may include summaries, question & answer format, excerpts, or citations to primary law.


Multinational Sources with Subject Arrangements

Foreign Law Guide (subscription database):  The Foreign Law Guide has entries for most countries of the world, with descriptions of their legal systems and history and references to primary sources, topical sources, and English translations. The Subject Headings for each country cite (and sometimes link) major statutes and publications for that subject area.

Global Legal Monitor (Law Library of Congress): The Global Legal Monitor has both jurisdictional and topical headings to browse.  Articles on legal developments are in English and include citations or links to primary documents or news articles.

NYU Globalex Guide to Foreign Law Subject Collections on the Web: Links to subject law collections on the web.

Global Legal Information Catalog (Library of Congress): The Library’s Congress’ catalog of publications on legal topics covering the laws of multiple jurisdictions.   Browse or search by topic or jurisdiction to find titles of works on comparative law by subject, then search the catalog or use Worldcat (for interlibrary loan) to find the print titles.

Multinational Sources Compared: A Subject and Jurisdiction Index (Hein Online): A finding aid designed to direct researchers to sources that compare multiple jurisdictions on focused subjects. Browse by title, subject, or jurisdiction to find comparative law titles.

Emory Library SearchSearch the catalog with terms including "international," "world," and "global" and legal subjects to find titles.

Some multinational treatises and guides on Westlaw and Lexis have chapters by individual country.

Subject Collections

Animal Law

Antitrust and Competition

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

  • Global Insolvency: News and overview articles, and some translated bankruptcy and banking codes and acts.

Business and Commercial Law

  • Digest of Commercial Laws of the World (K 1005.4 .D54): Commentary and forms on business and commercial treaties and on laws by country, including banking, bankruptcy, antitrust, foreign judgments, and e-commerce.
  • Getting the Deal Through: Reports by jurisdiction and practice area on issues in tax, data protection, banking, commercial law, trade, and intellectual property., with summaries of the law and citations to laws, regulations, and cases, and a jurisdiction comparison feature. Also available on Lexis and Bloomberg Law
  • Practical Law Company on Westlaw): The Global section includes resources for select countries, including topical information in employment law, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, and antitrust.  Q&A guides include some statute citations. The Online Resources include links to collections of laws and translations and to government agencies.
  • World Bank Doing Business Law Library: Reports with citations and links to business laws by region or country, with topics including banking, bankruptcy, civil codes, commercial laws, labor laws, privacy, securities, tax, and trade.
  • ICLG (International Comparative Legal Guides): Summaries of the law in a Q&A format in commercial areas including corporate governance, corporate recovery and insolvency, mergers and acquisitions, and patents.  Select chapters are available free. Chapters include a few citations or statutes by name but no links.
  • Doing Business In guides (Lexis): Lex Mundi guides to doing business in select jurisdictions.
  • Doing Business In guides (Baker & McKenzie): Guides to doing business in select jurisdictions, with information on tax, employment law, mining, and energy. Search in Insight guides for "doing business in." 
  • Transnational Dispute Management (subscription database): Commercial arbitration laws by country, as well as awards, cases, and news articles

Civil and Human Rights

  • ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association): Resources include the Annual State-Sponsored Homophobia Report with world laws on criminalization and discrimination.
  • OSCE database with European legislation and documents on human rights topics including gender, citizenship, elections, and freedom of religion. Documents, in English translation or official languages, include legislation, case law, and constitutional articles.
  • UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies: States Parties Reports and other reports include information and citations to implementing legislation, cases, administrative efforts, data, and other information on a country's civil and human rights law.

Criminal Law

  • UN Office on Drugs and Crime: The SHERLOC database includes national penal codes and statutes related to terrorism, money laundering, trafficking, and drug crimes, and a database of case law on organized crime and terrorism.
  • Library of Congress: Table of laws on extradition, with links. 

Environmental Law

  • ECOLEX: Environmental law database of treaties, plus national court decisions and legislation, with some full-text links.
  • FAOLEX (UN Food and Agriculture Organization): Laws and regulations on food and agriculture, including environmental laws on energy, water, and oceans, and animal laws on livestock, wild species, and ecosystems.

Family Law

Health Law

  • WHO Health Law by Countries: Legal system information and links to official gazettes and legislation, with separate links for some countries to health laws, especially on universal health coverage
  • Global Health and Human Rights Database: Judgments of national courts and international bodies on health and human rights topics, and national constitutions with provisions on health and human rights.  Find by country, topic, or international or regional body.

Immigration and Refugees

  • UNHCR Refworld: Includes national legislation and case law related to refugees, immigration, asylum, civil and human rights, and extradition.

Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence

  • WIPO Lex: National laws, treaties, and judgments on intellectual property, with related information.  Some laws available in English translation, others in the official languages.
  • Trademarks Throughout the World (Westlaw): Treatise arranged by jurisdiction, with information on trademark law.
  • Copyright Throughout the World (Westlaw): Treatise arranged by jurisdiction, with information on copyright law. 
  • Law Library of Congress: Regulation of Artificial Intelligence Around the World. Citations to laws and regulations for multiple jurisdictions, plus multiple international organizations.

Labor Law

  • ILO NATLEX: National legislation on labor and employment law by subject, with citations and some links.  The ILO EPLEX database covers employment discrimination, with English language summaries for select countries.
  • ILO LEGOSHSummaries and text of laws and regulations on occupational safety and health. 

Practice and Judicial Assistance Abroad

  • Legal information for Americans traveling or living abroad, including on citizenship laws, international judicial assistance (jurisdiction, service of process, civil procedure), private international treaties, and international child support enforcement.
  • European e-Justice Portal (European Judicial Network in Civil and Judicial Matters): Information on the law and legal systems of member states, with links, and information on civil procedure, jurisdiction, enforcement of judgments, and service of process in European Union countries.
  • International Bar AssociationDocuments on the regulation of the legal profession. Acts and regulations on the practice of law and legal ethics codes. 

Privacy and Data Security

Tax Law

  • European Union Tax Information: Tax information for EU member states.
  • Bloomberg International Tax databases: Find information by country including BNA portfolios, country guides, VAT information, Getting the Deal Through, tax treaties, and tax news. The database also includes US and international tax treaties. 
    • Foreign Income Country Portfolios include overviews of foreign tax laws, double taxation avoidance, and information on operating a business, forms of doing business, foreign investment, and banking
    • Country Guide Chart Builders for comparing jurisdictions by topics including tax rates, personal taxes, transfer pricing policies, and anti-avoidance provisions
  • CCH Cheetah International TaxTax treaties and other information by country.

Trade Law