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Foreign Law - Primary Sources: Legislation

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Background

For many countries, statutes are not officially codified, and there be no codes at all.  The official gazette or official journal may be the best or only source for finding a country’s statutes.  Codes are more likely to be translated into English than individual statutes, but some countries provide English translations of many statutes or some that are considered most significant or of the most foreign interest.  Most collected sources provide links to government and other sources that make legislation available online.

Codes & 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.

Official Gazettes

Official gazettes or official journals are official publications of a country’s legal materials.  They are usually daily publications and may include session laws, legislative history, regulations, judicial decisions, and treaties.  Since they are arranged chronologically, are not translated, and may have no search functions (if they are even available online), it is best to find citations in secondary sources before looking for statutes in official gazettes.

Subject Guide