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Law Research Guide: Foreign Constitutions & Law

Key Law Review Journals

  • International Journal of Constitutional Law. (Use Journals A-Z to access it.)

Introductions and Overviews of Foreign Legal Systems

Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, via HeinOnline. A "compilation of the various legal systems of the world". Start with the Country Index to find the section devoted to the country of interest. Over 100 jurisdictions.

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

Find Books on Foreign Constitutional Law

Try a search like the following in CBBcat, substituting the name of the country of interest. (You can limit to e-books if you are not participating in the Bowdoin testing program.)

d:(germany) AND d:("constitutional law")

d:("south africa") AND d:("constitutional law")

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, 2008)
Bowdoin Main Ref K3157.E5 M33 1995 (print)
a summary of some of the important provisions in the constitutions.

Guide to Law Online - Nations, Library of Congress - links to information about laws of nations, including their constitutions

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

Constitution Finder, University of Richmond School of Law. Note: this database was not available in July 2021.

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

Find Foreign Law

Foreign law is the law of another country.

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

World Legal Information Institute. "820 databases from 123 countries and territories via the Free Access to Law Movement." Best Bet

Otherwise, use the "Translations of Court Decisions" box or one of the "Guides by Country" in the "Guides to Foreign Law" box to find other sources.

Find Translations of Foreign Court Decisions

According to Georgetown Law Library, "foreign case law is more challenging to locate and English translations are more elusive". Be aware that a translation of a foreign court decision may not be official. To find translations,

  1. Begin with the resources listed in the "Find Foreign Law" box.
  2. Then try the resources listed just below in this box.
  3. Look on the court's website. (Guide to Law Online - Nations can help you find the website.)
  4. Google search.
  5. Use one of the "Guides by Country" in the "Guides to Foreign Law" box to find other sources.
  6. Look in book-length compilations of cases. Try keyword searching CBBcat:
    d:(COUNTRY) AND d:(cases)
    or subject searching WorldCat:
    COUNTRY AND cases
  7. Look in law review articles for an English translation or a summary of the decision. Instructions

Ask us for assistance at any time!


The Law Library of Congress' Foreign Law Research Guides provide information about sources of translations (as relevant) for these countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Russia, Sweden.

The journal International Legal Materials provides translations of a very few selected court decisions.

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."

(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.)

U.K. Legislation

Parliamentary Archives online

www.legislation.gov.uk "All legislation from 1988 - present day is available on this site (see 'What legislation is missing' for details of any known legislation we do not carry). Most pre-1988 primary legislation is available on this site. In some cases we only have the original published (as enacted) version and no revised version. This occurs if the legislation was wholly repealed before 1991 and therefore was not included in the revised data set when it was extracted from Statutes in Force. In other cases we may only have a revised version if the original (as enacted) version is not available in a web-publishable format."

The public general acts and General Synod measures
Main Libr KD125
1801-1971 (scattered holdings only), 1972-

The statutes, from the twentieth year of King Henry the Third to the [tenth chapter of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth years of King George the Sixth] A. D. 1235-1948 …
Main Libr KD132 1948
Each volume also includes a subject index and a "chronological table for the period comprised in this volume".

Index to the statutes in force: covering the legislation to December 31, 1948
Main Libr KD142.4 .I5 1950

Chronological table of the statutes: covering the legislation to December 31, 1950
Main Libr KD142.3 .C5 1951

Guides

Guide to Law Online: United Kingdom, Library of Congress

Tracing Acts of Parliament

How are laws made?

Passage of a Bill

A history of English law, by W. S. Holdsworth
Main Libr KD532 .H64 1922

Guide to the records of Parliament
Main Libr CD1063 .B63

For More Information

Consult our research guide on British History for information about how to access Debates and the Parliamentary Papers.

Guides to Foreign Law

Guides by country

Guide to Law Online - Nations. Best Bet

Foreign Law Research Guides, for Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Russia, and Sweden. Best Bet

GlobaLex, Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law Best Bet

Country Research Guide, Yale. Best Bet

Foreign and International Law Gateways, Harvard Law School Library Best Bet

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

A Selective List of Guides to Foreign Legal Research, Columbia University, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library.

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

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 Law, Boston University Law Libraries.

Subject Guides

Global Legal Monitor, Library of Congress, Law Library, "covering legal news and developments worldwide", by topic or jurisdiction.

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

European Union Law

The ABC of EU law

A Guide to Researching EU Law

Sources and scope of European Union law, European Parliament

Legislative powers

Ordinary Legislative Procedure

Handbook on the ordinary legislative procedure

How to find Council documents

European information: a guide to official sources

A compendium of guides on How To ...

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