Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Foreign and Comparative Law Research Guide

Foreign law is the national (also referred to as domestic or internal) law of any country other than the United States and research methods will vary depending on the country you are researching. This guide provides starting points.

Introduction

For purposes of this research guide, foreign law is defined as the domestic law of any country other than the United States.  Comparative law is the study of the similarities and differences between the laws of two or more countries, or between two or more types of legal systems.

Access to foreign law varies greatly by jurisdiction.  Some foreign governments make many types of legal materials freely available online, while others struggle to keep print sources up to date.  Countries experiencing political upheavals or economic distress may suspend the publication of legal materials indefinitely. 

For non-English-speaking jurisdictions, it is often difficult to find English translations of legal materials.  This is especially true for non-commercial legislation and for court decisions in civil law jurisdictions.  Americans researching foreign law should be prepared to adjust their expectations with respect to currentness and English language availability.
 

Key Resources for Foreign & Comparative Law Research

  • The Foreign Law Guide
    Use this subscription database to identify primary law sources for jurisdictions outside the U.S.  Content is organized by jurisdiction and by subject.  In some cases, you may find a direct link to an electronic version of a law.  In other cases, only a citation to a print source is provided.
     
  • Global-Regulation
    This user-friendly database allows you to search by keyword in English for national laws and regulations from 90 jurisdictions worldwide.  For non-English-speaking jurisdictions, machine-generated English translations are provided, along with a link to the law or regulation in its original language.
     
  • Multinational Sources Compared
    Use this HeinOnline database to identify secondary sources that compare the laws governing a particular subject in multiple jurisdictions.  Browse alphabetically by subject or search by keyword.  For each resource, a description of the content is provided, along with a list of jurisdictions covered.  To determine if the Georgetown Law Library owns a particular source, search for it by title in the library's online catalog.

Foreign & Comparative Law Research

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Foreign Jurisdiction Research Guides

The Georgetown Law Library maintains in-depth legal research guides for a limited number of foreign jurisdictions.  If your topic involves one of the jurisdictions listed below, start with the research guide for that jurisdiction.

Questions? Need Help? Contact International Reference.

International & Foreign
Legal Research


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