UPDATE: Foreign Law – Subject Law Collections on the Web

 

By Charlotte Bynum

Update by Jennifer Allison

 

Jennifer Allison is a Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law at the Harvard Law School Library. She is a 2007 graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, and received her MLIS degree from San Jose State University in 2010. She has served as an assistant editor of Brill's Foreign Law Guide, for which she is also the editor of the country entries for Germany and Austria, since 2013.

 

Resources listed in this guide are freely available online, with the exception of those specifically indicated as subscription databases.

 

NOTE: This article is a complete re-write of the original.

 

Published February 2017

See the Archive Version!

 

Subjects

 

General Multi-Subject Resources

There are several online resources for multi-jurisdictional legal research which cover a broad range of subjects.  They are listed below in alphabetical order.

 

1.     CCH Intelliconnect is a Wolters Kluwer subscription database. It is organized topically, and several of the covered subjects provide access to legal research materials (primarily secondary sources) for foreign (non-U.S.) jurisdictions.

 

2.     The World Bank's Doing Business Law Library is an online resource of national laws and regulations covering many subjects primarily related to business. Links to government sources are provided when possible.

 

3.     Foreign Law Guide is a subscription database published by Brill. It provides information about primary and legal secondary sources for nearly every jurisdiction in the world. Each jurisdiction includes a directory of sources organized by subject.

 

4.     Although its primary focus is corporate law, the subscription database Getting the Deal Through includes information about national legislation and regulation in more than 80 subjects covering many diverse legal disciplines for more than 150 jurisdictions. Its content is updated very frequently.

 

5.     Global Regulation is an online database of machine-translated English-language laws from jurisdictions around the world, searchable by subject.

 

6.     GlobaLex includes one of the largest collections of international, comparative and foreign law research articles. Some focus on particular geographic areas, such as the GlobaLex Source of Online Legal Information for African Countries, which includes a subject directory of online sources for African law. There are also several topical comparative law articles.

 

7.     The International Encyclopedia of Laws is a component of the Kluwer Law Online subscription database (it is also available as a series of print volumes). It contains encyclopedia-length entries, with detailed descriptions of primary legal sources, for selected jurisdictions on the following legal subjects: civil procedure, commercial and economic law, competition law, constitutional law, contracts, corporations and partnerships, criminal law, cyber law, energy law, environmental law, family and succession law, insurance law, intellectual property, intergovernmental organizations, labor law, media law, medical law, migration law, private international law, property and trust law, religion, social security law, sports law, tort law, and transport law.

 

8.     The Law Library of Congress's Global Legal Monitor publishes articles that discuss legal developments in jurisdictions around the world. These articles often include references and links to primary sources. It is searchable by subject.

 

9.     Lexadin: The World Law Guide  is web directory of legal source (including legislation and case law) for many of the world's jurisdictions. Organization is by country; within each country's "legislation" listing are links to laws organized by subject. It was last updated in 2011.

 

10.  Although not browseable by subject, the LLMC Digital subscription database provides access to digitized primary and secondary legal materials covering multiple subjects for many of the world's jurisdictions, with a focus on historical materials.

 

11.   The United Nations Member State National Best Practice Database provides a small library of articles that discuss national laws on several topics related to the rule of law, such as access to justice, anti-corruption, criminal justice, human rights, and more.

 

12.  The vLex subscription database provides access to statutes, case law, and secondary materials for selected jurisdictions in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, although it does not provide an option to browse by subject.

 

13.  WorldLII  is an internet global legal research directory maintained by regional legal information institutes. To browse WorldLII by subject, visit http://www.worldlii.org/catalog/272.html.

 

Animal Law

The Global Animal Law Project's Animal Welfare Legislation Database includes national, European, and global animal welfare legislation and standards.

 

Antitrust/Competition Law

Note: See also CCH IntelliConnect, Doing Business and Getting the Deal Through, under General Multi-Subject Resources above.

 

The Organization of American States' (OAS) SICE Foreign Trade System Competition Policy National Legislation Database is an online resource for antitrust laws in jurisdictions throughout the Americas.

 

 

Bankruptcy/Insolvency Law

Note: See also CCH IntelliConnect, Doing Business and Getting the Deal Through, under General Multi-Subject Resources above.

 

The World Bank Global Insolvency Law Database is an online database of insolvency laws from selected jurisdictions.

 

Commercial Law (including business entities, securities, trade, banking, and taxation)

Note: See also CCH IntelliConnect, Doing Business and Getting the Deal Through, under General Multi-Subject Resources above.

 

Thomson Reuters RIA Checkpoint, a subscription database, includes an International Tax Library, with English translations of commercial and tax legislation from many foreign jurisdictions. Another source for foreign and international tax materials, including country analyses, is the subscription IBFD Tax Research Platform.

 

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Global Banking Law Database provides a free resource specifically for national banking laws.

 

Several subscription database provide access to foreign primary and secondary sources related to international commercial (investment and trade) arbitration, including Kluwer Arbitration, Global Arbitration Review, Juris' s Arbitration Law, Investor-State Law Guide, and Transnational Dispute Management.

 

There are a few free online sources related to international trade law that include jurisdiction-specific information. Two of them include judicial decisions from national courts related to international trade law: the Elisabeth Haub's (formerly Pace) Law School CISG Database and UNILEX. In addition, the UN Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) International Investment Agreements navigator includes a database of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) from jurisdictions around the world.

 

Constitutional Law

There are a multitude of free and subscription-based online resources for foreign and comparative constitutional law research.

 

HeinOnline's World Constitutions Illustrated Library provides access to an extensive collection of historical and current constitutional texts for every jurisdiction, for many of which in multiple languages. This subscription-based resource also features links to numerous constitutional law secondary sources (legal periodical articles and historical treatises).

 

Oxford's Constitutions of the World, part of the Oxford Constitutional Law subscription database, is also very comprehensive, and includes sub-jurisdictions. Its secondary content includes references to Oxford University Press constitutional law treatises.

 

Of the online resources for constitutional law materials, the following, listed in alphabetical order, stand out for being reasonably complete and up-to-date:

 

1.     The Comparative Constitutions Project provides multijurisdictional systematic data for the study of the origins and consequences of constitutional choices.

 

2.     Constitute is a database that allows users to research the world's constitutions by topic and jurisdiction.

 

3.     The University of Richmond Constitution Finder offers a directory of constitutions that the researcher can search or browse by jurisdiction and language.

 

Criminal Law and Procedure

Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Comparative Criminal Procedure: A Select Biography, GlobaLex (Nov./Dec. 2016), lists a number of online sources for this type of research.

 

The International Criminal Court's ICC Legal Tools database includes a "national jurisdictions" library, with a legal system overview, an overview to national criminal law and procedure, and national Rome Statute implementing legislation, for selected jurisdictions.

 

The International Crimes Database includes a collection for case law related to international crimes from national tribunals.

 

There are several multi-jurisdictional sources of national criminal case law and legislation that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has made available online. These include the Drugs and Crime Legal Library, the SHERLOC Organized Crime Portal, and the Human Trafficking Knoweldge Portal.  The Office on Drugs and Crime also has a Legal Li  brary on Drug Control which includes both criminal and non-criminal national legislation related to drugs.

 

There are also other UN multi-jurisdictional databases related to criminal law, including the UN Global Database on Violence against Women and the UN National Legislation on Piracy Database.

 

Prevent Genocide International's Domestic Laws and Penal Codes Database provides free access to national laws related to genocide prevention, organized by jurisdiction.

 

Information on national capital punishment laws, including execution statistics, is freely available through the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide Death Penalty Database.

 

The International Money Laundering Information Networks AMLID database includes national criminal legislation and regulations related to money laundering for selected jurisdictions.

 

Although it has not been updated recently, the Bureau of Justice Statistics' World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems offers narrative descriptions of the criminal justice systems for selected foreign jurisdictions.

 

Election Law

There are two online databases that include national legislation related to elections:

 

1.     The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network.

 

2.     The International Foundation for Electoral Systems Election Materials Database.

 

For election-related legislation specifically from jurisdictions in Asia, the Asian Network of Free Elections offers an online database.

 

Environmental Law

There are many online sources for national legislation, regulations, and case law on environmental law.

 

ECOLEX is a comprehensive global source of primary and secondary environmental law sources.  A similarly broad source is ELAW, which can browsed by topic.

 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations maintains several online databases with access to national environmental laws, including the following:

 

1.     FAOLEX, a comprehensive legislative and policy database for food, agriculture, and renewable natural resources.

 

2.     FISHLEX, a database of national legislation and bilateral/multilateral agreements related to foreign fishing in coastal waters.

 

3.     WATERLEX, a database of national legislation related to water resources management.

 

4.     FAO/WHO Water Law and Standards Database, a web interface linking to FAOLEX through which the user can search specifically for national water laws.

 

UN Habitat's UrbanLex Urban Law Database includes selected national laws governing the management and development of the urban environment.

 

The Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law Database of Climate Change Laws of the World provides online access to climate change laws, regulations, policy, statements, and directives issued by governments around the world.

 

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Nuclear Legislation Database includes regulatory and institutional framework governing nuclear activities in OECD and NEA member countries.

 

Human Rights (including child law, disability law, family law, gender law, health law, LGBT law, and refugee/asylum law)

Resources that provide access to human rights legislation and case law may include materials related to one or more of the subtopics listed in the heading above.

 

Online resources with general human rights information include the following:

 

1.    The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UN OHCHR) Universal Human Rights Index provides access to country-specific human rights information emanating from UN system human rights mechanisms.

 

2.   Legislationline is a database of national human rights norms; search or browse by topic or jurisdiction.

 

3.   University of Minnesota Human Rights Library Resources for Researching Country Conditions is a database or primary materials related to human rights, organized alphabetically by jurisdiction.

 

4.   The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)'s databases on international humanitarian law include several national legislation resources related to human rights, such as the National Implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Database which is browseable by topic.

 

5.   Georgetown University's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law's Global Health and Human Rights Database includes national legislation and case law on several topics related to health and human rights.

 

6.   Bayefsky.com includes a directory of human rights treaties organized by jurisdiction.

 

There are also regional resources for general human rights law, such as Interights Commonwealth and International Human Rights Case Law Database, which provides summaries of significant human rights decisions from domestic Commonwealth courts and courts/tribunals applying international human rights law.

 

There are several online resources dedicated to specific human rights topics, including the following:

 

1.     Prevent Genocide International's Domestic Laws and Penal Codes Database provides access to national laws related to genocide prevention, organized by jurisdiction.

 

2.     For national legal mechanisms for addressing human trafficking, forced labor, and slavery, see the Labour Exploitation Accountability Database. National laws related to human trafficking are also included in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal.

 

3.     The Inter-American Development Bank's Indigenous Legislation DataBank includes national legislation by country for Latin American jurisdictions.

 

4.     UNESCO's Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws includes legislation related to cultural immovable and movable heritage, cultural diversity, and other topics.

 

For child law, the Child Rights International Network Legal Database includes laws and standards significant for children's rights around the world, including summaries of court cases.  There is also a comprehensive online resource from the Law Library of Congress, Children's Rights: International and National Laws and Practices, although this source covers a very limited number of jurisdictions. 

 

There are also a few regional internet resources for child law, including the Organization of American States' Family and Child Law website and the African Committee on Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child African Child Rights Cases.

 

The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund's (DREDF) Directory of International Disability Laws is a list of national legislation related to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, some of which are citations only and others of which are hyperlinked to a full-text version. Another resource for national laws related disability rights (as well as those related mental health, substance abuse, children, and older persons) is the World Health Organization's MiNDbank.

 

For family law, Marylin J. Raisch, Transnational and Comparative Family Law – Harmonization and Implementation, GlobaLex, has links to family law-related primary sources for several jurisdictions.

 

For women's rights, the UN's Global Database on Violence against Women covers national laws related to intimate partner violence.  The Cornell Law School Avon Global Center for Women and Justice Domestic Jurisprudence Database provides English-language summaries of seminal women's rights cases from jurisdictions around the world.

 

There are two online databases that specifically address women's rights to land ownership: Landwise and the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database. 

 

For LGBT law, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)'s State-Sponsored Homophobia Report is a yearly survey of anti-LGBT laws around the world.  The Sexual Rights Initiative's Sexual Rights Database is browseable by country and includes national laws related to LGBT and other sexual rights.

 

A good source for national laws related to the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people is the UN OHCHR's Refworld database. In addition, the University of Michigan Law School's RefLAW site provides analysis of refugee law cases, legislation, and emerging issues from around the world.

 

Intellectual Property Law

WIPO Lex  is the World Intellectual Property Organization's internet database of national IP laws and treaties; it includes WIPO, WTO, and UN member nations.

 

UNESCO's Collection of National Copyright Laws provides national copyright legislation for UNESCO member states.

 

Kluwer IP Law is a subscription database of primary and secondary legal materials related to intellectual property that can be browsed by jurisdiction.

 

The Darts-IP subscription database includes patent, trademark, and domain name decisions from national courts around the world.

 

Labor/Employment Law (including occupational health / safety and social security)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) maintains several national labor and employment law online databases, including the following:

 

1.     NATLEX is a database of national labor, social security, and human rights legislation, browseable by jurisdiction or by subject. 

 

2.     There is a "user-friendly" NATLEX interface called ILO NORMLEX that also contains information from several of the ILO's "legacy" databases, including APPLIS, ILOLEX, and Libsynd.

 

3.     EPLex is a database of national employment termination legislation.

 

4.     ILO Global Database on Occupational Safety and Health Legislation compiles national legislation on this topic.

 

For national legal mechanisms for addressing human trafficking, forced labor, and slavery, see the Labour Exploitation Accountability Database.

 

Legal Profession and Practice

The International Bar Association's Documents on the Regulation of the Legal Profession is a database of laws and regulations governing the practice of law and the legal profession in selected jurisdictions.

 

Maritime and Air and Space Law

The UN Office of Legal Affairs Division of Ocean Affairs' Maritime Space: Maritime Zones and Maritime Delimitation Database includes national legislation and other information about state practice related to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, organized regionally.

 

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs National Space Law Collection has national law related to the exploration and use of outer space.

 

Military/Armed Conflict/Terrorism Law

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)'s databases on international humanitarian law include several national legislation resources related to armed conflict, such as the National Implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Database which is browseable by topic.

 

There are several resources that provide information about national laws related to weapons that are used in wars and armed conflicts:

 

1.     The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Nuclear Legislation Database includes regulatory and institutional framework governing nuclear activities in OECD and NEA member countries.

 

2.     The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs National Legislation on Transfer of Arms, Military Equipment, and Dual-Use Goods and Technology Database  includes national legislation on this topic provided by member states to the UN.

 

3.     The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Legislation Database provides examples of legislation enacted by States Parties to implement the Chemical Weapons convention.

 

4.     The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 Committee National Implementation Legislative Database includes primary legal materials, organized by country, related to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on the non-proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons.

 

Property Law

 

UNESCO's Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws includes legislation related to cultural immovable and movable heritage, cultural diversity, and other topics.

 

UN Habitat's UrbanLex Urban Law Database includes selected national laws governing the management and development of the urban environment.

 

There are two online databases that specifically address women's rights to land ownership: Landwise and the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database. 

 

Regional resources include the European Associaiton of Real Estate Professions' Immolex Database, which features laws related to property sales and ownership, primarily in European jurisdictions.

 

Public Administration Law

 

Freedominfo.org's Freedom of Information Database includes national freedom of information laws and other materials, organized regionally and then by country.

 

The World Bank Public-Private Partnership in Infrastructure Resource Center includes a database of national laws governing public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects.

 

UN Habitat's UrbanLex Urban Law Database includes selected national laws governing the management and development of the urban environment.

 

Georgetown University's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law's Global Health and Human Rights Database includes national legislation and case law on several topics related to the provision of health care and the maintenance of healthy communities.

 

Religion and Law

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies' Religlaw database includes law and religion frameworks for selected jurisdictions (secondary sources citing primary materials, including statutes and constitutional provisions).

 

Marylin J. Raisch, UPDATE: Religious Legal Systems in Comparative Law – A Guide to Introductory Research, GlobaLex, includes links to many online resources for comparative law and religion research.

 

Technology/Data Law

The Asian School of Cyber Laws' Global Cyber Law Database includes national technology laws from around the world.

 

There are a few resources for national data protection and privacy legislation, including the DLA Piper Data Protection Laws of the World Handbook and the World LII International Privacy Law Library.

 

The International Technology Union's (ITU) National Cybersecurity Strategies Repository includes a collection of documents outlining strategies for selected ITU member states.

 

Tort Law

The Kelly/Warner International Defamation Law Database includes descriptive information about the defamation laws for selected jurisdictions; it also includes information about relevant speech and journalism laws.