Skip to Main Content

Foreign Law (Laws of Other Countries)

This guide will help users navigate the domestic laws of a foreign country. For help with treaties or international case law, please use the International Law guide

Introduction

Foreign Law refers to the domestic law of any country other than the United States. When beginning to research a legal system, you will want to do the following:

  1. Understand the structure of the foreign legal system
  2. Identify the sources of law
    • Does the country publish codes, compilations of statutes, or case reporters? Please keep in mind that governments may or may not publish their sources of law and any published materials may be out of date. If published, the sources may not be in English. Typically, foreign governments do not provide official English translations of their statutes or cases.‚Äč
  3. Identify what you need
    • Do you have a citation to the law, article, etc.? Do you need the complete text of the law, a summary, an English translation, or a detailed explanation or commentary?
    • If the material you need is not owned or available at USD, you can request it through either Interlibrary Loan or Circuit.
  4. Use a secondary source
    • Secondary sources are extremely helpful tools to begin your research since these sources describe the law or legal issue, provide commentary, and put the issue into context.
    • Use these starting points to find laws, legislative texts, and caselaw of individual countries.

Search Tips

For the title of a specific legal publication, you can also search a library catalog with keywords from your topic combined with these subjects:

  • law [country]
  • law reports, digests, etc. [country] 
  • constitutions or constitutional law [country]
  • delegated legislation [country]
  • [subject] law [country], e.g., constitutional law Brazil

If you're searching for a non-English or non-Roman alphabet title in our catalog, here are some tips:

Find the ISBN or ISSN using Google or Worldcat. Then, search the catalog by that ISBN/ISSN number. This approach will give you certainty as to whether or not USD has that particular title.

Non-Roman alphabet titles (e.g. Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, etc.) are transliterated in the LRC catalog. So, search for non-Roman alphabet titles using Roman alphabet characters. Use Worldcat or Google to help you figure what the transliterated title is and cut and paste them into the search.