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LAW 599 – U.S. Culture & Language (Prof. Schaetzel, Spring 2021): Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the actual laws and rules issued by governing bodies in the form of constitutions, statues, cases and regulations. As mandatory or persuasive authority, primary sources tell us what we can and cannot do. Primary sources contributes to the establishment of the rule of law and provides the foundation of the legal system. 

Constitutions

Hein Online's World Constitutions Illustrated (subscription database): Current and previous constitutions, in official languages and English translations. The World Constitutions Library includes constitutional histories and commentaries in treatises, law review articles (in the Hein Online Law Journals Library), and country studies.

Oxford Constitutions of the World (Subscription database): Full-text English translations of constitutions, with notes on amendments and other background information.  The Oxford database also includes a bibliography of resources on the country’s constitutional law and historical documents.

Constitute Constitutions Project: A free resource for making world constitutions available and searchable.  Constitutions are available in English translation. Articles of constitutions are tagged by topic so they can be browsed or searched.  Topics include international law, the judiciary, elections, and rights and duties.

Georgetown Political Database of the Americas: Constitutions in official languages, with constitutional analysis, electoral systems, comparative constitutional norms, and government links.

Statutes

Foreign Law Guide (subscription database): The Foreign Law Guide lists statute sources, including those available online and any translations into English. The Subject section includes citations to individual statutes by topic.

Law Library of Congress Guide to Law Online: The guide is arranged by branches of government and includes links to legislatures, gazettes, and other sources for codes and statutes.

Global-Regulation: Searchable portal database of regulations in the US and foreign jurisdictions, including the European Union. Searches index terms and links to regulations on government sites, sometimes with an English translation. 

LSU Law Center: Civil Law in the World: Links to Civil Codes and legislation for civil law countries, with notes on language.  Some English translations are available, and an LSU project is working to translate more civil codes.

Northwestern University: List of Foreign Governments: Links to legislatures, central banks, statistical agencies, and foreign ministries

Lexadin World Law Guide: Legislation by country includes links to codes and statutes by subject.  However, the site has not been recently updated.

EU N-Lex: A European Union common gateway for searching national statutes and official gazettes for EU member states.  Template search for words in the title, text, or by date or number, with search available in English using EuroVoc keywords.  The related links page links to the legislative websites of non-EU states, with descriptions and notes on language and translations.

Legislationline: OCSE database of European constitutional law and legislation on human rights.  The site includes some translated statutes and constitutional articles, arranged by country and subject.

NatLaw World (subscription database):  Primary materials including individual statutes, regulations, and cases for Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.

vLex Global (Subscription database):  Search or browse legal publications from Latin America and Europe with a few materials from Asian and African countries.  The collections include official gazettes, codes, and legislations, with the most content available for Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.  The database also includes legal books, journals, and newspapers.  Set up an individual password to use the automated translation tool and to save documents.

NYU GlobaLex: A compilation of guides to international law research, comparative law research and foreign law research. Particularly foreign law research guides encompass more than 160 countries.

WIPO Lex: National laws, treaties, and judgments on intellectual property, with related information.  Some laws available in English translation, but most are with a machine translation feature.

ECOLEX: Environmental law database with national court decisions and legislation. There are English language abstracts for some legislation and jurisprudence.

ILO NATLEX: Database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation. 

Case Law

WorldLII has links to courts or text of cases.

Cornell LII World Legal Materials has links to courts and other legal materials.

Guide to Law Online (Law Library of Congress) has links to courts and to sources for case law.

vLex Global (subscription database) has full-text content including some case reporters from Europe and Latin America.

European e-justice portal has links to courts of the European Union member states, plus information on their legal systems.

WIPO Lex: National laws, treaties, and judgments on intellectual property, with related information.  Some laws available in English translation, but most are with a machine translation feature.

ECOLEXEnvironmental law database with national court decisions and legislation. There are English language abstracts for some legislation and jurisprudence.

Major cases and highest court cases are sometimes published in official gazettes. Official gazettes or official journals are official publications of a country’s legal materials. Text of court judgments, or summaries, may be found in law journals of other countries, yearbooks, or in foreign newspapers.  Try Hein Online's Law Journal LibraryIndex to Foreign Legal Periodicals, Hein Online's Foreign & International Law Resources, and vLex Global.

Other Country-Specific Sources

China

Commonwealth Nations 

  • CommonLII: Provides free access to databases from 60 commonwealth and common law jurisdictions via legal information institutes. 

India

  • SCC Online: SCC Online is brought to you by Eastern Book Company, a leader in the field of law publishing in India.  The database includes complete coverage of the Supreme Court of India, all High Courts of India, Tribunals and Commissions, Statutory Material from India, and many foreign jurisdictions and International material.  This database is IP-authenticated but will require an initial registration prior to your first use.

Japan

Latin America

  • vLex Global: Extensive collections of statutes for Latin America. Includes codes and collections of individual statutes, including official gazettes. Use the translation tool to get electronic translation of documents in the database, including a side-by-side view feature. Set up an individual password to use the translation tool and to save documents.

Nigeria

  • LawNigeria: Provides constitution, statutes, regulations, and judicial opinions or judgments of Nigeria. 

Republic of Korea

Subject Guide