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International and Foreign Law

Finding Background Information

You should begin your foreign law research project by first finding some background information about the country’s legal system. This will give you an idea about the types of primary sources you will need to locate -- codes, court decisions, religious texts, etc. Listed below are two sources for this type of information.

Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World 
This is a subscription site that is available in the library. It is an excellent source of information about the laws and legal systems of more than 170 countries.

This is a free web site that is maintained by the Hauser Global Law School Program at NYU School of Law. It has guides to the legal systems of more than 100 countries.

Foreign Primary Law

World Constitutions Illustrated
This HeinOnline collection has contemporary and historical documents relating to the constitutions of many countries. It is arranged by country and includes primary documents (in English) as well as numerous secondary sources.

Search and compare 160 world constitutions.

World Legal Information Institute
Searchable cases from 123 jurisdictions, as well as international courts.

Supreme Court decisions from 42 countries. In French.

National Case Law (Europe)
A portal of national case law created by the Network of the Presidents of the European Supreme Courts.

Foreign Law Guide
A subscription site available in the law library that lists sources for the laws of various countries.

A collection of foreign law research guides.

World Legal Information Institute
The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) is a free global legal research site developed collaboratively by a number of Legal Information Institutes and other participants in the free access to law movement. It includes almost 900 databases from 123 countries.

N-Lex – A Common Gateway to National Law (Europe)
This common access portal for sources of national law has been developed by the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities in conjunction with the Member States of the European Union. It allows users to search national sites using a single uniform search template. N-Lex is still an experimental project.

Nations of the World
A directory of websites containing laws of nations, organized alphabetically by country. The directory is maintained by the Library of Congress

Mexico is a federal republic, composed of 31 states and a Federal District. The federal government is composed of three branches – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  The Mexican legal system is based on the civil law tradition, making the starting point for most Mexican legal research the federal constitution and then legislation. Federal legislation is codified in five major codes: the civil code, the commercial code, the criminal code, the civil procedures code, and the criminal procedures code.

Dictionary of Mexican Law  (2019)
This is a dictionary of Mexican legal terms in English and includes citations for primary authority.

Mexican Law and Research Guide (2014)
This online guide covers all aspects of Mexican legal research and is written by authorities in the field.  It provides information on locating primary law (constitutions, official gazettes, compilations of legislation, administrative regulations, international agreements, and judicial decisions), secondary sources (dictionaries and encyclopedias, treatises, textbooks, and law review articles), and online sources.

Globalex Electronic Guide to Mexican Law (2019)
Globalex is an online resources that provides information on foreign and international legal research. This GlobaLex guide on Mexican law is an excellent overview of the Mexican legal system with information and links on where to find both federal and state legal information. It also provides links to free translation sites and official government webpages.

Mexican Law for the American Lawyer (2009)
This book is a practical guide for practitioners, judges, and government officials who handle legal matters involving Mexican law. It covers procedural topics including conflicts of law and extradition, as well as substantive areas such as contracts, property, personal injury, family law, trusts and estates, and immigration.

Legal History of Mexico: From the Era of Exploration of the New World to the Present (2017)
This book provides a comprehensive guide to the legal history of Mexico from the Aztec Empire to today. It covers the origins and legal bases of the laws and the legal institutions of each historical period in addition to discussing the laws as written and applied over time.

Constitution of Mexico: Contains links to the current text of the Mexican Constitution in Spanish and English, as well as the original 1917 version in Spanish.

Translated version of the Mexican Constitution through HeinOnline World Constitutions with background documents (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE).

Leyes Federal Vigentes: Full text of federal statutes in force.

Relación cronológica de reformas: Chronological list of amendments and additions to the federal constitution, laws, and regulations as published in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

Reglamentos de Leyes Federales: Full text of federal regulations both in force and abrogated.

Leyes Estatales: Links to state laws and official government bulletins of each Mexican state.

Noticias de la Corte: News from the Supreme Court, including press releases and the Court’s monthly e- bulletin.

Jurisprudencia de la Corte Suprema de Mexico: Lexis contains the decisions of the Mexican Supreme Court in Spanish up through 2004 (Lexis password required).

Law Library of Congress Guide to Mexico
Includes links to materials related to the constitution, the executive branch, judicial branch, legislative branch, legal resources, and general guides.

LANIC (Latin American Network Information Center)
This resource from the University of Texas at Austin provides links to many Mexican sites. Most are not legal but include subjects like anthropology, archaeology, economy, finance, trade, energy, NAFTA, indigenous peoples, news, politics and government (Spanish).

Organization of American States (OAS)
An organization made up member states of North, Central, and South American countries.  They provide full-text of Inter-American conventions and treaties and provide a mechanism for Inter-American cooperation.

Justia Mexico
This Spanish language portal (with the option of translating headings) provides access to Mexican federal and state laws, including the Constitution of the United Mexican states and legal information about the 32 Mexican states. Justia México also streams Mexican law blog posts and legal tweets, a list of Mexico's largest firms and a directory of its law schools. 

U.S. Department of State Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs: U.S. Relations with Mexico Bilateral Fact Sheet
Offers information on the U.S. Mexico relationship and links to information on Mexico by other U. S. agencies.

Canada is a democratic constitutional monarchy, with the British Sovereign as the head of State and an elected Prime Minister as the head of Government. The country has a federal system of parliamentary government, in which government responsibilities are shared between the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. There are three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Executive branch of government is made up of the British Sovereign, the Cabinet (which includes the Prime Minister), and the administration. The Legislative branch consists of Parliament, and the Judicial branch is composed of the courts of the National Federal Court system as well as the provincial and territorial courts. The federal courts and the court system in nine of the ten provinces and the three territories are based on English common law; in Québec the court system is based on French civil law.   

The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research (2010)
The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research provides an excellent overview of print and electronic resources for locating Canadian law. The book covers legal encyclopedias and dictionaries, periodicals, case law, statutes, regulations, Quebec law (based on French civil law), and more. 

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Westlaw password required)
The Canadian Encyclopedic Digest is the only Canadian legal encyclopedia.

The Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research
This guide to Canadian legal research is written by Catherine Best, a research lawyer in Vancouver, British Columbia. The guide provides a step-by-step plan for conducting legal research and recommends both print and online sources for conducting research on Canadian law. Please note that the author often references QuickLaw (a LexisNexis product) and LawSource (a Westlaw Canada product) for Canadian law – many of the primary materials contained in these databases can be accessed in Westlaw (Westlaw password required).

Researching Canadian Law (2019)
This GlobaLex resource is an online overview of the Canadian legal system that provides a compact, efficient starting point for Canadian legal research. It covers everything from statutes and caselaw to Canadian law school admissions and Canadian law firms.

The Canadian constitution is not one single document, but rather is comprised of multiple pieces of British and Canadian legislation. It is available through HeinOnline World Constitutions with background documents (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE).

Constitutional Documents
This Canadian Department of Justice website provides access to the Constitution Acts and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Federal Statutes
The Canadian Department of Justice website provides an official version of the federal Consolidated Acts. The related Table of Public Statutes provides a list of legislative amendments since the last official revision of the Consolidated Acts. The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) also provides online access to the Consolidated Statutes of Canada. In addition, current Canadian federal statutes are available on Westlaw (password required) in English (Canada Federal Statutes) and French (Canada Federal Statutes-French).

Annual Statutes - The Canadian Department of Justice website provides access to the Public General Acts in the form that they were originally enacted by Parliament from 2001 to the present.

LEGIS info - This Parliament of Canada website provides electronic access to a wide range of information on legislation before Parliament, including bill versions, votes, details on the bill’s passage through Parliament, and legislative summaries.

Federal Regulations
The Canadian Department of Justice website provides an official Consolidation of Federal Regulations. Laws are available in both English and French. Updated regulations are also available online within the Canada Gazette: Part II. CanLII also provides online access to the Consolidated Regulations of Canada.  In addition, current Canadian federal regulations are available on Westlaw (password required) in English (Canada Federal Regulations) and French (Canada Federal Regulations-French).

Provincial/Territorial Statutes and Regulations 
Provincial and territorial statutes and regulations are available on CanLII and Westlaw (password required).  In addition, the University of Toronto Bora Laskin Law Library website provides a chart with links to internet sources of Canadian federal, territorial, and provincial legislation and regulations.

Federal Courts
The Supreme Court of Canada is the nation’s final court of appeal. Decisions of the Supreme Court from 1907 to the present are available on the Court’s website. Supreme Court of Canada decisions are also available on CanLII (partial coverage from 1876-1906, full coverage from 1907-present) and Westlaw – password required (1977-present).

The Federal Court of Canada is Canada’s national trial court. It hears disputes arising under federal law, claims against the Canadian government, civil suits in federally-regulated areas, and challenges to federal tribunal decisions. The Federal Court of Canada was established in 1971 and split in to two separate courts in 2003: the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal. The Federal Court of Appeal hears appeals from the Federal Court, from the Tax Court, and from certain federal tribunals. Decisions of the Federal Court from 1990 to the present (with the exception of the years 1992-1994) and decisions of the Federal Court of Appeal from 1988 to the present (with the exception of the years 1990-1995) are available online. Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal decisions are also available on CanLII (1988-present) and Westlaw – password required (1979-present).

The Tax Court of Canada hears appeals from assessments under the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and the Employment Insurance Act, among other acts. Judgments of the Tax Court from 1996 to the present, as well as information on Court acts, rules and procedures, are available on the Court’s website. Tax Court judgments are also available on CanLII (1998-present) and Westlaw – password required (1979-present).

Provincial/Territorial Courts 
Provincial/territorial court decisions are available on CanLII and Westlaw (password required).

The Canadian Legal Information Institute, is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada that makes Canadian federal and provincial law available for free on the internet. The CanLII website provides access to court cases, tribunal decisions, statutes, and regulations from all Canadian jurisdictions. Materials can be both browsed and searched. Coverage varies – see the Database Scope table for specific jurisdictions. 

Canadian Judicial Council 
The Canadian Judicial Council is a federal body which promotes efficiency, accountability, and quality in the superior courts of Canada. The Judicial Council’s website has a Resource Centre which offers information on how the Canadian court system is organized and where to find Canadian case law.

Canada Treaty Information 
The Treaty Law Division of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade website lists all treaties to which Canada is a party. It has both basic and advanced search functions.

The Canadian Bar Association 
The Canadian Bar Association is a voluntary professional organization for Canadian barristers. The Association’s website offers information about practicing law in Canada and provides links to various legal organizations and resources. 

Canadian Legal Citation Guide 
The Queen's University Lederman Law Library provides an online legal citation research guide with information on how to properly cite Canadian cases, statutes, regulations, books, journal articles, and electronic sources.

Subject Databases and Subscription Resources

Doing Business Law Library
A free online collection of business laws and regulations of many countries, maintained by the World Bank.

Environmental treaties, national legislation, and national and international judicial decisions, provided by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the UN Environment Programme.

National laws dealing with food, agriculture, and renewable natural resources from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Legislation Online
Western and Eastern European legislation dealing with human rights and related topics, from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

National legislation dealing with labor, social security, and human rights, from the International Labour Organization.

National laws and treaties on intellectual property from World Intellectual Property Organization.

Westlaw and Lexis 
Westlaw provides access to the laws of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Some primary and secondary sources for other countries are available. Browse the Westlaw International Materials database for available resources (Westlaw password required). 

Westlaw also has a Global Law Homepage in their Practical Law section that includes a Country Q&A Comparison Tool (jurisdictional surveys) where you can compare laws across different countries on a wide variety of topics (Westlaw password required).

Lexis has laws of Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, India, Malaysa, Mexico, New Zealand, Russian Federation, South Africa, and the United Kingdom (Lexis password required).

Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative, and International Law, 1600-1926
This collection includes pre-1926 treatises and similar monographs in the following areas: International Law, Comparative Law, Foreign Law, Roman Law, Islamic Law, Jewish Law, and Ancient Law. The Foreign Law component covers dozens of countries; the principal ones included are: Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland. The materials in this archive are drawn from three American law libraries: the Yale Law Library, the George Washington University Law Library, and the Columbia Law Library.