Research Guides

TMLL Research Guide - Chapter 11


Cautions on performing foreign law research

The following cautions on undertaking foreign law research are summarized from Susan Van Syckel, Strategies for Identifying Sources of Foreign Law: an Integrated Approach, 13 Transnat’l Law. 289 (2000):

(1) There may not be published sources of law for the country you are researching;

(2) if there are published sources, they may not be in English;

(3) if they’re in English, a particular law library might not have them; and

(4) if the library has them, they may not be current, or the translations may be inaccurate.

Furthermore, without knowing something about the legal system of the country you are researching, it will be difficult to evaluate the reliability of the sources you find.  And even if they are reliable, you won’t know how to use them.  For example, suppose you find a relevant case from a court in the country whose law you are researching.  Are cases binding or even persuasive in the courts of your target country?  What is the relationship between cases and statutes?

Selected sources for foreign law research

Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest (REFERENCE KF190 M22, Level 2)

Part of the multi-volume Martindale-Hubbell directory set, this portion is updated annually and contains summaries of the laws of over sixty countries and of the European Community.  A description of the governmental and legal systems of each country is also provided.  Electronic version: Classic Lexis (Source Directory path: Legal >find laws by country or region>foreign laws & legal sources> international law digests ) ..

World Constitutions Illustrated is a HeinOnline library that contains current constitutions in the original language and an English translation.  In addition there are links to constitutional periodicals, classic books and links to scholarly articles.  HeinOnline is a subscription access database.  For historical research go to Constitutions of the Countries of the World (K3157 A2B4, Level 4).  This title contains the English translations of constitutions of nations of the world.  It also includes annotated bibliographies.

Foreign Law Guide (Brill Online Reference Works).  This database is one of the best places to start your research on foreign law.  Searchable by country or subject, the Guide first presents an overall view of a country’s legal system and then sets out sources of the law and cases.  Live links to online resources are also provided.  Access this database through the library web page database list.  Access is limited to University of Maryland Carey Law faculty, students and staff.

Thurgood Marshall Law Library Research Guide on Researching Foreign Law:

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