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.

Foreign Laws by Subject

The following electronic resources will help you to identify and access primary law materials (codes, legislation, and regulations) governing a specific subject area in multiple jurisdictions.  Some are free databases maintained by international or inter-governmental organizations.  Others are subscription databases provided by the Georgetown Law Library.  Topical coverage varies by jurisdiction and is usually selective, rather than comprehensive.

Also included are links to subject-specific manuals of the International Encyclopaedia of Laws (IEL) Online.  Each IEL manual includes multiple treatises (national monographs), which provide detailed summaries of the laws governing that subject within a specific jurisdiction, along with citations to primary sources.  Each treatise follows a standard outline, making it easy to compare laws across multiple jurisdictions.  Jurisdictional coverage is selective, not comprehensive, with most manuals covering between 25 and 75 jurisdictions.

Subject Name & Description of Resource Full Texts of Laws or Summaries? English Translations Provided ?
Animal Welfare Animal Welfare Legislation Database
The Global Animal Law Project, an NGO, maintains this free resource, which identifies national laws on animal welfare.  It also includes animal welfare standards established at the European level (by the EU and by the Council of Europe) and at the international level.
Links to full texts. English translations for many, not all.
Banking Global Banking Law Database
This joint project of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund provides free access to selected banking laws in English or in English translation from 38 jurisdictions around the world.
Links to full texts. Yes.
Bankruptcy (Insolvency) Global Insolvency Law Database
This free resource, maintained by the World Bank, includes national laws governing bankruptcy and insolvency, as well as a selection of related commercial laws.  Select the desired geographical region to browse alphabetically by country.
Links to full texts. English translations for some, not all.
Business & Commerce Doing Business Law Library
This free resource, also maintained by the World Bank, provides access to selected national laws governing a wide range of business and commercial subjects, including banking, business entities, construction, customs, employment, secured transactions, securities, and trade, among other matters.

Links to full texts.
 

English translations for many, not all.
 
Business & Commerce Checkpoint
This subscription tax law database also includes selected commercial laws from 189 countries.  Path:  Select "International Tax" as the practice area from the menu on the left side of the homepage.  When the page refreshes, select "RIA Worldwide Tax & Commercial Law" under the heading "Primary Source Materials" to browse geographically by region.

Full texts.

Yes.  Some also in their original language.
Business & Commerce IEL Commercial & Economic Law
This IEL manual includes 25 jurisdiction-specific treatises on commercial law, each of which covers contracts; negotiable instruments; securities; business assets, goodwill, and commercial property; and bankruptcy, among other topics.

Summaries with citations to primary law.

No.
Civil Procedure IEL Civil Procedure
This IEL manual consists of 35 jurisdiction-specific treatises on civil procedure.  Topics covered in each treatise include jurisdiction, actions and claims, evidence, costs and legal aid, and the enforcement of judgments, among other matters.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Constitutional Law IEL Constitutional Law
This IEL manual features 47 jurisdiction-specific constitutional law treatises, as well as treatises on sub-national constitutional law for the following countries with federal systems of government:  Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, the Russian Federation, South Africa, and the U.S.  Also included are the full texts of 43 national constitutions.

Full texts with commentary and analysis for most of the included jurisdictions.

Yes.
Contracts IEL Contracts
This IEL manual consists of 41 jurisdiction-specific treatises on contract law, each of which covers both general principles of contract law (capacity, formation, privity, breach, remedies, etc.) and specific types of contracts (sales, leases, loans, government procurement, etc.). 

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Crime Death Penalty Database
This free resource, maintained by Cornell Law School, provides detailed information about capital punishment practices, including lists of crimes and offenses punishable by death, in jurisdictions worldwide.  Browse by country, search by keyword or scroll down to perform a filter search.

Citations to primary sources only.  No links.

No.



 
Crime Ref World
Although it focuses on immigration law, this free UN database also covers related subjects, including criminal law.  To browse, click on the "Laws" tab at the top of the homepage and select "National Legislation" from the menu.  Then filter by type, country, and topic.  For optimal searching, use the Advanced Search and select "legal information" as the category and "national legislation" as the document type.  Consult the Search Tips for additional guidance.

Link to full text usually provided (sometimes only a citation).

English translations for some, not all.
Crime SHERLOC
Sponsored by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, this free resource focuses on national laws to combat transnational crime, including counterfeiting, cyber crime, human trafficking, money laundering, and piracy, among others.  Browse by country or by type of crime.  Or search by keyword.

Text displayed in browser with link to full text PDF at the bottom.

English translations for some, not all.
Crime IEL Criminal Law
Included within this IEL manual are 27 jurisdiction-specific treatises covering all aspects of criminal law, including criminal liability, the definition of specific crimes, defenses, criminal procedure, sentencing, and the rights of prisoners, among other matters.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Cultural Heritage Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws
This UNESCO database includes national laws to protect objects of cultural heritage, as well as procedures governing the import and export thereof.  Search the titles or the texts of documents by keyword or use the filters below to browse by country, by theme, by type of legal instrument, and more.
Citations and, in most cases, links to full texts. English translations for some, not all.
Elections ACE Electoral Knowledge Network
This free online repository is a joint project of eight NGOs, government agencies, and international organizations.  It includes election laws, regulations, and related materials from jurisdictions around the world.  To limit results to legal materials, be sure to select "Laws and Regulations" as the document type.   
Links to full texts. English translations for some, not all.
Energy Nuclear Legislation Database
This free resource provides detailed summaries (country profiles) of laws governing the use of nuclear materials in 33 jurisdictions, along with links to the full texts of selected laws.  Topics covered include mining, nuclear installations, transport and trade of nuclear materials, waste management, and third party liability.   

Summaries with citations to primary sources and links to some full texts.
 

Most full texts are English translations.
Energy IEL Energy Law
This IEL manual consists of 32 jurisdiction-specific treatises on energy law.  Topics covered in each treatise include laws governing the generation and sale of electricity, regulatory frameworks for fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, and the interplay between energy law and environmental law.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Environment ECOLEX
This free UN database includes national and sub-national environmental laws and regulations from more than 200 countries, territories, and regional organizations.  Use the filters displayed on the right side of the homepage to browse by subject, country, and content type, among others.  Or search by keyword and use the filters displayed to the right of the search results to narrow.

Link to full text, plus a brief summary and citation information.

English translations for some, not all.
Environment Climate Change Laws of the World
This free database of national legislation and policy documents related to climate change is a collaboration between research institutes at the London School of Economics and Columbia Law School.  Select one or more filters to browse by region, country, category, and more.

English summary with link to full text for some, but not all materials.

Only a few English translations.
Environment IEL Environmental Law
This IEL manual features 52 jurisdiction-specific treatises covering all aspects of environmental law, including pollution control (air, water, soil, noise), conservation, wildlife protection, land and water management, and zoning.

Summaries with citations to primary sources

No.
Family Law IEL Family & Succession Law
This IEL manual consists of 38 jurisdiction-specific treatises on family law, each of which covers marriage and marital property, divorce, adoption, the rights of children, testamentary and intestate succession, estates, and trusts, among other matters.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Food & Agriculture FAOLEX
​This free UN database includes legislation, regulations, and related policy documents on food, agriculture, and natural resources management from more than 200 countries, territories, and regional organizations.  Click on an icon to browse by topic or select Country Profiles to browse by jurisdiction.  When searching by keyword, use the Advanced Search for greater precision. 

Link to full text, plus brief summary and citation information.

English translations for some, not all.
Healthcare WHO MiNDBank
This free platform, maintained by the World Health Organization, provides access to national laws, policies, and standards on several health-related topics, including mental health and substance abuse legislation, as well as general health legislation.

Summaries with citations and links to full texts.

English translations for some, not all.
 
Healthcare IEL Medical Law
This IEL manual consists of 35 jurisdiction-specific treatises on medical law.  Topics covered include access to and control over the practice of medicine; laws governing the physician-patient relationship; laws that govern the relationships between physicians and other health care providers, as well as the relationships between physicians and health care institutions.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Human Rights Directory of International Disability Laws
This free resource, maintained by the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, includes constitutional provisions and national laws pertaining to the rights of people with disabilities arranged alphabetically by jurisdiction.

Citations with links to full texts for many, but not all.

Only a few English translations.


 
Human Rights Global Database of Violence Against Women
This free UN database includes national laws, policies, reports, and statistics on violence against women in jurisdictions worldwide.  Click on the name of a jurisdiction to access its country profile.  Then use the menu on the lower left side to limit the display to relevant laws, regulations, and constitutional provisions.   Or search by keyword.

Summaries and citations.  Links to full texts for some, not all.

English translations for some, not all.
Human Rights WHO MiNDBank
This free platform, maintained by the World Health Organization, provides access to national laws, policies, and standards on several human rights topics, including the rights of children and the rights of the disabled, as well as general human rights legislation.

Summaries with citations and links to full texts.

English translations for some, not all.
Immigration, Refugees & Asylum RefWorld
This free UN database includes national laws on immigration, refugees, asylum, and many related subjects.  To browse, click on the "Laws" tab near the top of the homepage and select "National Legislation" from the menu.  Then filter by type, country, and topic.  For optimal searching, use the Advanced Search and select "legal information" as the category and "national legislation" as the document type.  Consult the Search Tips for additional guidance.

Link to full text usually provided (sometimes only a citation).

English translations for some, not all.
Information & Computer Technology IEL Cyber Law
This IEL manual includes 30 jurisdiction-specific treatises on information and computer technology (ICT) law.  Topics covered include the regulation of the ICT market; protection of intellectual property in the ICT sector; ICT contracts; electronic transactions; non-contractual liability of network operators and service providers; privacy protections for personal data and online communications; and laws to combat computer-related crime.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Intellectual Property WIPO Lex
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) maintains this free database, which includes IP legislation from all WIPO member states.  Use the menus on the homepage to browse by country and/or by topic.  Select Full Text Search to search by keyword. 

Full text.

English summaries for some, not all.
Intellectual Property IEL Intellectual Property
This IEL manual features 55 jurisdiction-specific treatises on IP law, each of which covers copyright, trademarks and trade names, patents, industrial designs, and trade secrets, among other topics.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Labor & Employment NATLEX
This free database, maintained by the International Labour Organization (ILO), includes labor, employment, social security, and related human rights legislation from 196 countries.  Browse by country or by subject.  Or search by keyword in English, French or Spanish.

Summaries and citations.  Links to full texts for some, not all.

English translations for some, not all.
Labor & Employment EPLex
This free ILO database focuses on national laws governing employment termination, severance, and related issues.  The menu on the left offers multiple options for browsing and searching by topic.  Or browse by country.

Summaries and citations.  Browse by country for links to full texts.

English translations for some, not all.
Labor & Employment LEGOSH
This free ILO database includes national laws governing occupational safety and health in the workplace.  Use the menu on the left to browse by country, compare countries on one or more subjects or search by keyword.

Summaries and citations.  Links to full texts for some, not all.

English translations for some, not all.
Labor & Employment IEL Labour Law & Industrial Relations
This IEL manual includes 74 jurisdiction-specific treatises on laws that govern individual employment relations as well as those governing collective bargaining agreements.  Also included are summaries of labor standards established by the International Labour Organization, other international and regional organizations, and major trade agreements.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Mergers & Acquisitions IEL Corporate Acquisitions & Mergers
This IEL manual features 62 jurisdiction-specific treatises on the law of mergers and acquisitions, each of which covers the following topics:  the regulatory framework, common types of transactions, financing methods, antitrust and competition law aspects, tax considerations, employment issues, accounting treatment, and procedural formalities.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Outer Space National Space Law Collection
This free UN-sponsored resource features national laws and regulations governing the exploration and use of outer space from 22 jurisdictions.

Links to full texts, along with citation information.

English translations for many, not all.
Privacy & Data Protection National Data Protection Laws
This free resource covers all 47 member states of the Council of Europe, plus a selection of non-European countries. Browse alphabetically by country to identify national data protection laws and the government agencies responsible for enforcing those laws, as well as constitutional provisions that protect the right to privacy.

Link to full text usually provided (sometimes only a citation).

English translations for some, not all.
Privacy & Data Protection Privacy and Data Security
This Bloomberg Law database offers the most up-to-date coverage of national and sub-national laws governing privacy and data security.  To search for primary law, click on the Research tab at the top of the homepage and enter keywords in the search box after the page refreshes.  Use the red menu bar to browse by content type and the white menu bar to browse by jurisdiction or region (LATAM = Latin America; EMEA = Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; APAC = Asia Pacific).

Link to full text.

English translations for some, not all.
Taxation Checkpoint
This subscription database offers current tax laws from 189 jurisdictions.  Path:  Select "International Tax" as the practice area from the menu on the left side of the homepage.  When the page refreshes, select "RIA Worldwide Tax & Commercial Law" under the heading "Primary Source Materials" to browse geographically by region.

Full text.

Yes.  Some also in their original language.
Taxation IBFD Tax Research Platform
This subscription database has the same coverage of foreign tax law as Checkpoint, from which it licenses the content.  Path:  Click on the + sign next to "Primary Source Material" in the center of the homepage to display the menu.  When the page refreshes, click on "National Legislation."  Then use the filters on the left to narrow.

Full text.

Yes.  Some also in their original language.
Torts IEL Tort Law
Included within this IEL manual are 23 jurisdiction-specific treatises on tort law, each of which covers the following topics:  liability for one's own acts, liability for the acts of others, forms of strict liability, causation, defenses, and remedies.

Summaries with citations to primary sources.

No.
Urban Planning & Land Use UrbanLex
This free database, maintained by the UN in partnership half a dozen universities, includes national and sub-national laws and regulations on urban planning, land management, and development financing from jurisdictions worldwide.  Click on an icon above the search box by to browse by topic or enter keywords to search.  It is also possible to browse by region.

English digest (summary) with link to full text.

A few English translations, but mainly in the original language.