Foreign Laws

Foreign Laws

Secondary Sources:

  • The subscription-based Foreign Law Guide: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World by Reynolds and Flores explains the legal bibliographies of most foreign countries, including subject-specific treatises in English [formerly published by F. B. Rothman as a looseleaf under the title Foreign Laws].
  • The blue pages of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.
  • The foreign law research guides on GlobaLex.
  • The Foreign and International Legal Research Guides from the Library of Congress.
  • A legal encyclopedia explaining the law for a particular country; as discussed in the “Legal” section of the Encyclopedias entry.
  • The “Doing Business in …” guides listed in the Doing Business in Foreign Countries entry (for summaries of foreign countries’ corporate, securities, banking, customs, tax, and other business-related laws).
  • The volumes in the Getting the Deal Through series (print and online), which explain the laws of foreign countries in dozens of business-related practice areas.
  • The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals can help you find articles on particular subjects. The Index is available in print (William S. Hein & Co.; formerly University of California Press) and on HeinOnline (1985-Current).

Primary Materials / Internet Sources: To find Internet links to primary legal materials for specific countries, (1) look up the entry for the country by name in this Guide and/or (2) check the links posted by the World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) and/or (3) check the links posted in the Guide to Law Online by the Library of Congress.

Primary Materials / Print Sources: Some publishers publish English translations of the key laws of foreign countries, notably the Central & Eastern European Legal Materials series by Columbia University’s Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law. There are also many subject-specific compilations of English translations of foreign laws.

For similar books on other topics, check WorldCat, the Library of Congress or theHarvard, Columbia, NYU or Georgetown law school library catalogs.

Constitutions: Oxford University Press (formerly Oceana) publishes the definitive multi-volume Constitutions of the Countries of the World and Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories, each providing high quality English translations. Subscribers can access online editions. Alternatively, the subscription-based World Constitutions Illustrated library in HeinOnline includes the current constitution for all countries (with an English translation), “constitutional histories” for selected countries, plus hundreds of books and articles on constitutional law. Great stuff if you have a password.

If you don’t, the constitutions of many foreign countries are available free on the Internet at the University of Richmond’s Constitution Finder. Georgetown University posts Constitutions from North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.Constitute not only posts the constitutions of many countries, it allows you to pick atopic and drill down to the related section in each country’s constitution.

Legislation: Most countries publish new laws in a Gazette (the equivalent of the U.S.Congressional Record). Many of these Gazettes are posted online; and you can link to most online Gazettes through Government Gazettes Online. If that doesn’t do the trick, see if the Gazette is available on Lexis, Westlaw or at one of the libraries discussed above.

The Global Legal monitor reports on significant legal developments in over 150 countries, covering over 100 subject areas.

English translations of corporate, commercial, tax and other business-related laws for most countries are included in RIA’s World Wide Tax Law Service, which includesCommercial Laws of the World and Tax Laws of the World. The Service is available by subscription through Checkpoint.

In case of emergency: Guideline (formerly Find/SVP) has offices in 30 countries that do document retrieval of foreign legal materials. See also the separate entry for “Document Retrieval Services.”

For more information: Foreign laws are further discussed in the entries for specific countries (e.g., “Australia,” “United Kingdom”) and specific subjects (e.g., “Patents,” “Environmental Law” in this legal Encyclopedia).

For Truly Tough Questions: If you have a truly tough question, try searching the archives of the INT-LAW listserv. If that doesn’t work, try posting your question to the list.

Foreign Laws Resources

Note: information about the concepto of Foreign Law is available here.

Research guides

Thomas H. Reynolds & Arturo A. Flores, Foreign Law : Current sources of codes and legislation in jurisdictions of the world (1989 – ) [LAW/FOREIGN-INTL REF K38.R49 1989]. This is the Bible of foreign law research. Identifies the major primary sources of law (codes, Court Reports , etc.) for each country , as well as citations to the country ‘s important legislation by subject. Also notes English translations or reprint sources, if available.

Jeanne Rehberg & Mirela Roznovschi, Finding Foreign Law, in Accidental tourist on the new frontier: An introductory guide to global Legal Research 87-110 (Jeanne Rehberg & Radu D. Popa, eds., 1998) [LAW/RESERVES K85.A27 1998]. Good background for those new to foreign law research. Combines strategic advice with descriptions of essential sources. Provides examples of sources from important subject areas, and from individual countries and regions.

Locating Key Foreign & International law sources : Foreign law sources. Gives the lay of the land in foreign law research, emphasizing the kinds of sources researchers should expect to encounter. Contains cites and links to major foreign law sources.


Foreign Primary Law on the Web: Foreign Law Gateways. A list of gateways for foreign law research. In addition to general gateways, there are gateways devoted to particular regions and subjects.

Primary sources

Commercial laws of the world [LAW/FOREIGN-INTL K1004.C65]. Thirty-two volumes of selected commercial legislation from many (not all) countries. Stresses commercial codes, company laws, labor laws, insurance, bankruptcy, and the like. Major source of English translations of foreign laws in these areas.

Investment laws of the world [LAW/FOREIGN-INTL K1112.A48].

Lexis : INTLAW. Foreign legislation and case law from a number of countries are included this Lexis library. Certain countries are assigned their own library in LEXIS. And there is overlap between the individual country files and the INTLAW library, making for a confusing situation. Always check the index to the current print version of the LEXIS Directory.

InterAm Database. A subscription Web site operated by the National Law Center for Inter-American Trade. It contains primary (and secondary) materials from countries of the Americas on trade-related subjects, but its offerings among the countries are extremely uneven. Take advantage of the “Topical/Subject Areas”menu to locate legislation on a specific topic. If you are searching for the text of legislation for which you have a complete citation, search under “Primary Materials”; laws will be listed there in reverse chronological order. (University of Houston faculty and students: for username and password, contact Timothy Mulligan, Foreign & International Law Librarian, by email, or call (713) 743-2330 ).

Foreign Primary Law on the Web. A virtual warehouse of links to primary foreign law texts available on the Web.

Secondary sources

Index to foreign legal periodicals [LAW/INDEX TABLE (F&I) K40 .I63]. A source for citations to articles in selected foreign Law Journals and essay collections. Indexed by subject, country and region, book reviews, and author. When using the country and region (“Geographic”) index, you will see a list of subjects under each country; those are subjects under which, in the volume you are using, articles pertaining to that country appear. Use the list of “Periodicals Indexed by Short Form”near the beginning of a volume to decipher periodical abbreviations. It is available as WESTLAW: IFLP, but not under many law school WESTLAW subscription contracts.

Szladits’ bibliography on foreign and comparative law [LAW/INDEX TABLE (F&I) K520 .S95]. Less current than IFLP, but broader in scope: it also references books and sources of foreign primary law.

Doing business in [ ]. Many books dealing with foreign business law bear titles that begin with these words. Many of these are loose-leaf treatises that, in addition to analysis, contain reprints or translations of the jurisdiction’s laws relating to business; these can sometimes be found in an appendix. A list of “Doing Business in . . .”titles available at the University of Houston Libraries is here. Most of the titles are part of a Price, Waterhouse series, but some, such as Doing business in Europe, are not. Other titles in this genre, like Business Transactions in Germany, may be found by doing an appropriate subject search, using subjects typically assigned to “Doing Business in”books.

Digest of commercial laws of the world [LAW/FOREIGN-INTL K1005.4.D54].



See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

Court Reports, Foreign Law, International law sources, Law Journals, Legal Research, Lexis, country.



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