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Law Research Guide: Foreign Constitutions & Law

Recommended Databases (start here)

Law Review Articles

What Which database
Search for and get fulltext of law review articles. Instructions on Guide > Home.
* good coverage of foreign law review journal articles
Search for law review articles for highly relevant results without getting overwhelmed with results.
Do a citation search to find law review articles that cite a particular case.
Search for and get full text of articles in International Journal of Constitutional Law (2003-present) (a key law review journal). Use Library Home Page > Journals & Newspapers > International Journal of Constitutional Law > Oxford Journals [...]

Court Opinions

What Which database
Search for and get fulltext of U.S. cases.
Search for and get full text of foreign/international court opinions. (Not easy for some countries!)
  • Westlaw (Australia, Austria, Barbados, Canada, Cayman Islands, European Union, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia (former)).
  • Nexis Uni (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United Kingdom)
  • World Legal Information Institute
  • Etc. See Barbara!

Instructions on Guide > Home.

Foreign court opinions or laws

Other ways to find foreign court opinions or laws...

Foreign law is the law of another country.

If you would like to get the fulltext of a foreign law, court opinion, etc.....

  • there are lots of places to look for it.
  • it may be very difficult (or impossible) to find.
  • the more "prominent" the law/opinion, the easier it may be to find. Foreign national laws are easier than local codes. Recent materials are easier than historical ones. Materials widely discussed, especially by scholars who write in English, are easier than more obscure ones.
  • it may only be available in the original language, i.e. not translated into English. (Be aware that a translation of a foreign court decision or law may not be official.)

A good first step is to find a complete citation to the law or opinion (henceforth, "law").

  1. Begin with these resources (if your jurisdiction is included).
    • Westlaw. Choose: All Content > International Materials. Jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, Korea, United Kingdom. Best Bet
    • Nexis Uni. Choose: Advanced Search > Legal > Cases. Jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United Kingdom. Best Bet
  2. This is a good source for countries around the world.
  3. If you need a translation, try these resources.
    • The journal International Legal Materials provides translations of a very few selected materials.
    • Foreign Law Translations, Texas Law, The University of Texas at Austin. "This site is a resource for French, German, Austrian and Israeli legal materials in the fields of constitutional, administrative, contract and tort law. The English translations of decisions from Germany and France include cases from the Reichsgericht, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, the Bundesgerichtshof, the Conseil Constitutionnel, the Conseil d’Etat and the Cour de Cassation."
    • Japanese Law Translation, Ministry of Justice, Japan
    • Korea Law Translation Center, Korea Legislation Research Institute
  4. Look for the law on the legislating body's or the court's website, either in the original language or in English. (Nations of the World can help you find the website.)
  5. Google search on key phrases from the text of the law.
  6. Search HathiTrust on key phrases from the text of the law.
  7. Look in law review articles for an English translation or a summary of the law.
  8. Look in book-length compilations of laws. Try keyword searching Compass using the following terms, as relevant:
    d:(law OR laws OR cases OR constitution* OR justice) AND d:(COUNTRY-NAME)
    or subject searching WorldCat:
    (law OR cases OR constitution* OR justice) AND COUNTRY-NAME
  9. Use one of the "Guides by Country" in the "Guides to Foreign Law" box to find other sources of foreign law.
  10. The materials in the "Introductions to and Overviews of Foreign Legal Systems" box may provide the background needed about the country's legal system to make an educated guess about how to find the law.

Ask us for assistance at any time!

(For more tips, see How to Find Cases in English Translation, Revisited and From the Reference Desk: “But I Want it in English!”. For background, see "Foreign law in translation: problems and sources" in Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems, chapter 14, pp. 267-326, via HeinOnline.)

Find Foreign Constitutions

World Constitutions Illustrated via HeinOnlineBest Bet
Includes "the current constitution for every country in its original language format and an English translation, as well as substantial constitutional histories for countries such as Australia, Brazil, China, France, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and many more."

Constitutions of the World (online and print)
Bowdoin Main Ref K3157.E5 M33 1995
a summary of some of the important provisions in the constitutions.

Nations of the World (Guide to Law Online), Law Library of Congress.

Constitute Project
developed by the authors of the Comparative Constitutions Project at the University of Texas at Austin

International Constitutional Law (ICL), Universität Bern Institut für Öffentliches Recht - "English translations of and other textual material related to constitutional documents. It cross-references those documents for quick comparison of constitutional provisions."

WIPO Lex, World Intellectual Property Organization - "national laws and treaties on intellectual property (IP) of WIPO, WTO and UN Members", including their constitutions

ConstitutionNet, joint initiative of International IDEA and Interpeace

United Nations Public Administration Network - Search on: [NAME OF COUNTRY] constitution then choose the Documents tab

World Legal Information Institute

Constitutions / Constituciones Políticas, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Center for Latin American Studies - constitutions of Western Hemisphere countries

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project, University of Oklahoma Law Center and the National Indian Law Library

Introductions to and Overviews of Foreign Legal Systems

Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, via HeinOnline. Best Bet
A "compilation of the various legal systems of the world". Over 100 jurisdictions.
Browse all volumes, geographically arranged.
Alternatively, start with the Country Index to find the volume and section devoted to the country of interest, then browse as just above.

Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems.

The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Law

The I·CONnect-Clough Center 2017 Global Review of Constitutional Law, Richard Albert, David Landau, Pietro Faraguna, Šimon Drugda. Over 50 jurisdictions.

Individual East Asian countries

Dictionary of Chinese law and government : Chinese-English
Main Ref KQK34 .B5

Chinese law, University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library

Chinese law, past and present; a bibliography of enactments and commentaries in English text, 1966, Main Libr KQK34 .L55

Guide to selected legal sources of mainland China : a listing of laws and regulations and periodical legal literature : with a brief survey of the administration of justice, 1967

Chinese law : a bibliography of selected English-language materials, 1990.

Index to Japanese Law; A Bibliography of Western Materials, 1975.

Japanese law, University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library

Korean law, University of Washington, Gallagher Law Library

Law and legal literature of North Korea : a guide, 1988

Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress), Library of Congress. "This collection features research reports and other publications on a wide range of legal topics prepared by the Law Library of Congress in response to requests or recurring interest from Congress and other federal government entities on issues concerning foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL)." Examples: "Types of incarceration and forced labor in the People's Republic of China", "Japan & South Korea : disposal of narcotics".

Find Books on Foreign Constitutional Law

Try an advanced subject search in Compass on "constitutional law" and the name of the country of interest.

Guides to Foreign Law

Guides by country

Nations of the World (Guide to Law Online), Law Library of Congress. Best Bet

World Legal Information Institute. Best Bet

Foreign Law, Boston University School of Law.

A Selective List of Guides to Foreign Legal Research, Columbia University, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library. (Note: this site was under construction as of July 2022.)

National Law Material, Legal Information Institute (LII), Cornell University Law School. "The LII collection of world legal materials gathers, country by country, continent by continent, the Internet-accessible sources of the constitutions, statutes, judicial opinions, and related legal material from around the globe (excluding the U.S. material held in the LII's other collections). It also holds resources and document collections of International law."

Foreign and Comparative Law Research Guide, Georgetown University Law Library.

Foreign and International Law Gateways, Harvard Law School Library.

GlobaLex, Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law.

Foreign Law by Jurisdiction, New York University School of Law.

Country by Country Guide to Foreign Legal Research, Yale.

The bluebook : a uniform system of citation
Main Ref Research Lab KF245 .B58 20th 2015
The section on "Foreign Jurisdictions" (T2) includes internet sources for each country treated.

European Union Law

The ABC of EU law, European Commission

A Guide to Researching EU Law, Law Library of Congress

Sources and scope of European Union law, European Parliament

Legislative powers, European Parliament

Handbook on the ordinary legislative procedure: a guide to how the European Parliament co-legislates, European Parliament, "covers all the key steps inside Parliament and includes updated guidance on inter-institutional legislative negotiations and Parliament's Rules of Procedure"

How to find Council documents, European Council

Subject Guides

Foreign Law – Subject Law Collections on the Web, Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law.


Law Library of Congress Reports, via HeinOnline or Law Library of Congress. The Law Library of Congress "produces reports on foreign, comparative, and international law in response to requests from Members of Congress, Congressional staff and committees, the federal courts, executive branch agencies, and others. Selected reports are provided for the public for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The information provided reflects research undertaken as of the date of writing, which has not been updated unless specifically noted."