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Legal Foundations - Academic English for Law Classes (Prof. Schaetzel, Summer 2022)

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  The Oxford database also includes a bibliography of resources on the country’s constitutional law and historical documents.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

Switzerland 

  • Constitution and Statutes
  • Judicial Decisions
    • The Swiss Federal Judiciary is comprised of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court and the Swiss Federal Patent Court.
    • For access to (the mainly free) online Swiss case law, the best website is the Swiss Federal Supreme Court website.
    • The traditional method of finding relevant cases on a particular topic is to use a case law reporter, with the most well-known being the “Official Collection of the Decisions of the Federal Tribunal” (“Amtliche Sammlung der Entscheidungen des schweizerischen Bundesgerichts (BGE)”/“Recueil des Arrêts du Tribunal Fédéral Suisse (ATF)”). ATF/BGE, which is also available on Swisslex, provides the most important decisions of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (“leading cases”), organized into five different areas (I. Constitutional Law, II. Administrative and Public International Law, III. Civil Law, Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy, IV. Criminal Law, V. Social Security).

      In Switzerland, the ATF/BGE is technically the only official reporter. Most other case law reporters, such as “Praxis des Bundesgerichts”, “Journal des Tribunaux” and “La Semaine Judiciaire”, are “unofficial” but are widely used by most lawyers and judges. There are many case law reporters in print, ranging from cantonal reporters to topical reporters.

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.
  • vLex Global: Primary and secondary authority from Latin America, Europe, and India. Includes a machine translation feature for both searches and documents. Browse through international material to find Indian documents, including Acts, caselaw from the Supreme Court, High Courts, tribunals, commission, and boards, and a few books and journals on Indian law.
  • The Supreme Court of India: contains information about the full text of the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, golden jubilee celebration, Rules, former CJI’s, present CJI and judges, calendar of the Supreme Court, registrars, and former judges. This site also has links to “Indian Courts,” “JUDIS,” “Daily Orders,” “Case Status,” “Cause List,” “Courts Websites” and India Code. Home page of "Judges Library” can also be accessed through this website.

  • SUPLIS (Database of Case Laws): SUPLIS is an indexing database of case laws decided by the honorable Supreme Court. This database consists of more than 42,000 case laws since 1950. This database is very useful in finding out the desired case laws. As soon as a cyclostyled copy of any judgment is received in the library it is immediately entered in this database after assigning subject headings and a famous case name (if any). This database is unique, as it contains some important features that are not available in other legal databases developed by commercial vendors. Besides retrieval of case laws by subject and case title, it also provides search capability by a “famous case name” (if any) assigned at the time of the entry – for example: “Bhopal Gas Case”, “Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,” “Mandal Commission Case,” etc. SUPLIS also provides “equivalent citations” of case laws so that, in the event that a particular journal is unavailable, that case law could be made available from another journal with the help of this facility. The retrieval menu of the SUPLIS is shown in the picture below:

  • SUPLIB: Database of Indian and other legal journal articles from the Supreme Court Judges Library, including by subject, journal, and title. Citations only.

    LEGIS (Database of Legislation of Acts, Rules & all Statutory Materials): Statutory materials such as bills, acts, joint committee reports, select committee reports, law commission reports, parliamentary and assembly debates, rules, by-laws, schemes, etc., are among the most important and sought-after library materials in any law library. The Legislative Database is a database for central government acts including amendments, rules, bills, and all subordinate legislations relating to central as well as state acts. This database is very useful for tracing the complete legislative history of any particular central or state act. All the amendments in acts, rules, schemes and by-laws framed under any particular enactment could be readily identified and retrieved with the help of their citations / source given in this database. If the text of any particular central act is desired, a link for “India Code,” which is a database of the Ministry of Law, is also provided to access the full text of the desired central act. 

  • India Code Digital Repository: Searchable database of consolidated central and state acts.

  • Legal Information Institute of India: Database of Indian caselaw and statutes, including state.

  • Indian Kanoon: Free database of Indian court judgments and tribunals, including state. 

Iran

Italy

Latin America

Statutes

  • vLex Global (Subscription Database): Extensive collections of statutes for Latin America. Includes codes and collections of individual statutes, including official gazettes.   Electronic translation, but you will need to search in the original language. Set up an individual password to use the translation tool and to save documents.
  • Natlaw World: Laws, codes, and regulations for countries in the Americas, in original languages. Search by title, or use the advanced search to search full-text with Boolean commands.
  • Westlaw: WestlawNext has the Mexican Civil Code Annotated and Mexican Commercial Code Annotated in English translation.
  • Lexis: Lexis.com has a few resources for Latin America.  From Lexis Advance, go to Research>Lexis.com>Find Laws by Country or Region.
    • Mexico: Federal and state legislation, the Codigo de Comercio de Mexico and Codigo Penal de Mexico, and the Diario Oficial
    • For most Latin American countries, Lexis has secondary sources on subjects including tax and copyright.
  • Foreign Law Guide (Subscription database):  The article for each country includes names, descriptions, and sometimes links to codes and statutes. The subject sections include citations to individual laws, sometimes with links or with sources for translations or for summaries in secondary sources.
  • IPU National Parliaments: Links to legislative bodies, and the Parline database with information and data on legislatures and elections.
  • Georgetown Political Database of the Americas: Links to Latin American legislative bodies.
  • Print civil codes are available in the 4th floor classified collection for some countries, including Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Chile.  See discoverE to search for dates and locations. 

Case Law 

  • NatLaw World (subscription database):  NatLaw includes individual judgments or decisions or many Latin American countries. Search by title of the case or use the advanced search to search by Boolean or keywords.
  • vLex Global (subscription database): vLex includes case law, arranged by country and court, for many Latin American countries. Filters are available for searching by topic,  date, citing documents, title, and summary, as well as full-text searching.
  • Lexis: Includes judgments from the Suprema Corte de Justicia of Mexico. From Lexis Advance, go to Research>Lexis.com>Find Laws by Country or Region.
  • Lexadin World Law Guide: Lists courts with links where available for most Latin American countries.
  • Law Library of Congress Guide to Law Online: Links to courts, usually the court of last resort or to the judicial administrative organization.
  • Worldlii: Includes links to courts and collections of case law.
  • Foreign Law Guide (subscription database):  Lists names of court reporters and includes a few links to case law sources.

Kenya

  • Kenya Law Reports eKLR: Provides an up to date edition of the Laws of Kenya in a searchable database. It also includes the Kenya Gazette from 2003. The site also has a digital format of the Kenya Law Reports, where one can search for cases from 1971, but printing is not available once a decision has been published in the Kenya Law Reports. The site also has bench updates, which are recent decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal that are unreported.

  • LawAfricaContain the East Africa Law Reports, LawAfrica Law Reports, East Africa Court of Appeal Reports and the Laws of Kenya. It also has ‘Hot from the bench’, which is an online subscription service that contains recent cases by various courts in the Eastern Africa region. 

  • Kenya Government: Is the official Kenya Government portal on the web and provides links to sites of various Government Ministries and other state agencies.

Republic of Korea