Thursday, February 3, 2011

Foreign law: digests

We often recommend secondary sources (texts, commentary, articles) as a good starting point for finding the law, and this is true of foreign law too. By foreign law, I mean the law of another country or jurisdiction.
If you want something short and sweet, try the Martindale-Hubbell law digests. You'll get a brief digest (i.e. overview) of the government and legal system, and a brief overview of of each of the main areas of law (criminal, employment, environment, family etc). The digest information is well worth the effort it takes to find it. So, go to Lexis (you need a university username for this); select: Find a Source and search for: martindale-hubbell law digest. When you browse the results list, you'll see that each American state has its own digest; and that there are regional digests e.g. Asian law digests, within which you will find digests for individual countries. Take your time and explore a bit, look for the browsable TOC (table of contents), stay away from the "listings" (unless you are looking for a lawyer rather than a digest) and sooner or later you'll find what you want. If you don't, just ask.
Other options for foreign law:
  • search the library catalogue for an introductory text on the law of your chosen country - we don't have many print texts outside of the common law countries but you may find a useful e-book.
  • try the LegalTrac database for articles - probably better for specific areas of law.
  • try the (free) GlobaLex research directory - good for international and foreign law.
  • try the (free) WorldLII databases
  • just ask - at the desk, or via email or phone. Foreign law can be tricky but with time and effort, we can usually track it down.

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