University of Pittsburgh

Top Ten Tips for Finding Foreign Law

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Find Statutory & Regulatory Codes.
First, look in Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World K520 .R49, also available electronically, to get the names of those sources and to ascertain where even particular parts of a foreign code might be published either by the government or a private publisher. Look in the legislation list on the World Legal Information Institute WORLDLII site . This will link you directly to Internet sources of parts or all of the country's statutes. Use the Parline database from the Interparliamentary Union to find a country's parliament and see if you can link to its statutory code from there. Government Gazettes typically contain regulations written by the ministries. Sometimes, the Gazettes also contain legislation. See the Global Legal Information Network.

 

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Find Case Law
See if Global Courts links to a country's highest court. WORLDLII also links to many foreign courts' pages.

 

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Learn the country's general government structure
Individual ministries or an office of information might be able to provide you with the laws or cases you need. Here are some good sources of government information:
Library of Congress Portals to the World
University of Colorado at Boulder's List
Martindale.com  (Roll down to "jurisdiction" and just choose the country you want. Don't enter other search terms.)

 

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Look for an international organization's compilation of national laws on a particular subject. Here are a few: FAOLEX, from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, links to national agricultural laws. NATLEX, from the International Labor Organization, collects national labor and employment laws. ECOLEX has environmental laws. WIPO has national intellectual property laws.  The Security Council compiles national laws about weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Red Cross, ICRC, has full-text statutes & cases showing national implementation of humanitarian law.  The World Criminal Justice Library Network is a portal to national criminal law offices, journals, and other informaiton.

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Post to a listserv used by lawyers and law librarians from around the world.
Here's an example:
INT-LAW@listhost.ciesin.org (Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Resources)
Send the following message to majordomo@listhost.ciesin.org:
subscribe int-law

 

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Look in PittCat for a comparative law treatise about the area of law you're researching.
Example: Copyright Laws of the World. Similarly, see if International Encyclopedia of Laws (call # K530 .I58) has your country's law in the subject volumes you need.

Also, look for books about the country's sociological, political, or business interests relating to the area of law you need. That sort of resource might reproduce at least parts of the statutory code. Note that some of these books will be in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs Library-GSPIA or the business collection on campus, rather than the law library.

 

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Find scholarly articles in journals and law reviews that quote the law or have that article author's original translation of the law.
Search for articles by subject, author, or title in the Legal Trac database, Oxford, Cambridge, and SpringerLink online journals.

 

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Look for a Globalex research guide or a SOSIG link list.

 

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Contact either that country's embassy where you live or else your country's embassy in the country you are researching.
If the embassy does not have the laws you need, they may be able to connect you with someone who can get you the law. Here is where you can find U.S. embassies in other countries. Here is where you can find foreign embassies in the U.S.

 

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Contact a law library that collects law materials from the country you are researching. Ask a law school in the country you are researching if they will fax it to you. Here is a worldwide directory of libraries . Find out what is available from national government libraries and parliamentary libraries. (Here is another source of parliamentary library access.)

Return to the foreign sources page or the library's main international & foreign research page.

Revised 09/28/2011 | Copyright 2011 | Site by UMC