Comparative Civil Procedure: Finding Primary and Secondary Sources

By Louis Myers

Louis Myers is a Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian with the Law Library of Congress. He earned an MLIS from Kent State University in 2020, and a J.D. from the University of Idaho College of Law in 2017.

NOTE: This article is an adaption of the previous versions authored by Radu D. Popa, Assistant Dean & Director, and Mirela Roznovschi, Reference Librarian for International and Foreign Law, both formerly at NYU Law.

Published May/June 2023

(Previously updated in January 2011 and January 2013)

See the Archive Version!

1. Introduction

The comparison of legal systems has for a long time been an essential branch of legal research and jurisprudence. It has become even more important and relevant in our era of globalization, an era in which there is no field of law that can base its knowledge exclusively on national ideas and rules of procedure. Peter Gottwald sees the comparison of legal systems leading “not only to a better knowledge of foreign law but also corresponding to the internationalization of law and jurisprudence, and the globalization of politics, of trade, commerce and private lifestyle.” (Comparative Civil Procedure. 22 Ritsumeikan Law Review, 23 (2005)).

The first part of this article lists: general works of comparative civil procedure; basic books about the civil and common-law systems; and encyclopedias and treatises covering several jurisdictions. The remainder of the article is arranged by country. Depending upon the country, the sources listed may be in English or in the vernacular (or both in some cases). Under “Primary Sources” are listed codes of civil procedure and civil procedure statutes and, for civil law jurisdictions, basic treatises, and commentaries. Under “Secondary Sources” are listed monographs, treatises, and commentaries (for common law jurisdictions), which may also contain the text of civil procedure code sections and statutes. The section on “Secondary Sources” also contains collected jurisprudence, as well as a few journals. To locate titles in particular libraries, it is advisable to search online library catalogs such as WorldCat.

To find citations to articles in law journals/reviews, consult especially these two databases: Index to Legal Periodicals and Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.

2. General and Multinational Sources

The following resources provide general overviews of comparative civil procedure and multinational sources. These materials serve as primers for new researchers and refreshers for experienced researchers.

2.1. Monographs, Treatises, and Traditional Resources

2.1.1. International Courts

3. National Codes, Statutes, and Commentaries

Civil Procedure has traditionally been governed by lex fori (the law of the state where the proceedings take place). Therefore, primary and secondary sources for this subject should be researched by jurisdiction. The comparative dimension is implicit in this approach. But there are also, especially lately, more and more explicit works of comparative civil procedure. It is true that, for a long period of time, we witnessed resistance against such works. Some scholars claimed that the character of lex fori or lois politiques is not transferable from one country to another. The attempt to use foreign procedural models would have been, then, a misuse of comparative law. As Gottwald (op. cit., p. 24) very well notices: “If this opinion were true civil procedure would be the only branch of law does not open for comparative studies. Just the opposite is true. Since 1950 twelve World Congresses of Procedural Law were organized dealing with nearly all essential subjects and problems of procedural law.”

International Encyclopaedia of Laws: Civil Procedure, edited by Piet Taelman, Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 1994-. This treatise provides commentaries for over 50 jurisdictions: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, the United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Another valuable source, especially from the bibliographic viewpoint, is Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World, edited by Tom Reynolds and Arturo Flores. Loose-leaf. Littleton, Colo.: Rothman, 1989-. The service is updated when needed and covers the following regions and jurisdictions: Andean Community, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Caribbean, Cayman Islands, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Latin America, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Cristopher-Nevis (St. Kitts), St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay, and Venezuela (in volume I); Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia (in volumes II, II-A, and II-B); Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, People’s Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somali Republic, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe (in volume III); Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Republic of (South Korea), Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tuvalu, the United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, and Vietnam (in volume II-A).

The service can be used for updating information, as there is also an online version available from Brill. Civil Procedure topics are covered for each country under the following headings: Civil Procedure, Administration of Justice, Evidence, and Conflict of Laws. The authors provide citation to codes, official gazettes, statutory instruments, and regulatory material, in the vernacular and, when available, in English or French translations.

3.1. General Online Databases and Resources

Civil Codes (file in pdf); Civil Codes; World Civil Codes (vernacular).

3.2. Argentina

3.3. Aruba

3.4. Australia

3.5. Austria

3.6. Bahamas

3.7. Bangladesh

3.8. Belgium

3.9. Bosnia and Herzegovina

3.10. Brazil

3.11. Bulgaria

3.12. Cabo Verde

3.13. Canada

3.14. Chile

3.15. China (People’s Republic of)

3.16. Colombia

3.17. Costa Rica

3.18. Croatia

3.19. Czechia

3.20. Denmark

  • Denmark Karnovs lovsamling. København: Karnov, 1978-. This is the official running compilation of Danish Laws and Codes.
  • Gomard, Bernhard, Civilprocessen. Kobenhavn: Gad Jura, 2020. Eighth edition of a much-respected Danish book covering all the aspects of the law on civil procedure and the courts.
  • Juraportal: The main gateway to legal information resources. The site provides an overview as well as instructions in researching Danish legal resources. Maintained by the faculty of law, University of Copenhagen.
  • Lovtidende: The official versions of new statutory laws appear in the official journal Lovtidende A (1871- ).
  • Retsinformation: provides access to written statutory and regulatory legal sources,
  • Werlauff, Erik, Civil Procedure in Denmark. 2d revised edition. Copenhagen: DJOF; Norwell: Kluwer International, 2017.

3.21. Dominican Republic

3.22. Ecuador

3.23. European Union

3.24. Estonia

3.25. Finland

3.26. France

3.27. Ghana

3.28. Germany

3.29. Greece

3.30. Guatemala

3.31. Haiti

3.32. Honduras

3.33. Hong Kong

3.34. Hungary

3.35. Iceland

3.36. India

3.37. Ireland

3.38. Israel

3.39. Italy

3.40. Japan

3.41. Kenya

3.42. Latvia

3.43. Lithuania

3.44. Luxembourg

3.45. Malaysia

3.46. Mexico

3.47. Mongolia

3.48. Montenegro

3.49. The Netherlands

3.50. New Zealand

3.51. Nigeria

3.52. Norway

3.53. Philippines

3.54. Portugal

3.55. Romania

3.56. Russia

3.57. Saudi Arabia

3.58. Serbia

3.59. Slovakia

3.60. Slovenia

3.61. South Africa

3.62. South Korea

3.63. Spain

3.64. Sweden

3.65. Switzerland

3.66. Taiwan (Republic of China)

3.67. Uganda

3.68. Ukraine

3.69. United Kingdom

3.70. United States