Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

German Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate the German legal materials.

Introduction

Germany is a federal constitutional republic comprised of 16 constituent states, known as länder in German.  The German legal system falls within the civil law tradition, which traces its origins to Roman law.  Germany played a leading role in the codification of civil law during the 19th century, and its legal codes have influenced the development of the law in many other jurisdictions.

The Georgetown Law Library maintains an extensive collection of German legal materials, including both primary law and secondary sources, in German and in English.  These materials all have call numbers beginning with the letters KK and are located on the fourth floor of the Williams Library.
 

Key Online Resources for German Legal Research

Listed below are links to free and subscription-based electronic resources that provide full-text English translations of German laws or English language summaries of German laws.  Links to free German language electronic resources also are provided.

Full-Text English Translations of German Laws

  • Gesetze im Internet (Laws on the Internet)
    This free database, maintained by the Federal Ministry of Justice and a commercial publisher, provides full-text English translations of selected German codes and statutes.  They are listed alphabetically by the German abbreviation for the title of each translated code or statute.  Use Ctrl F to search the translated titles by keyword in English.
     
  • German Law Archive (Oxford University)
    This free resource offers English translations of selected federal statutes, as well as selected judgments issued by the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Justice, the Federal Labor Court, and a few judgments issued by higher regional courts.
     
  • German Legal Materials (Inst. for Transnational Law, UT Austin)
    Provides free access to English translations of selected German court decisions on the following subjects:  constitutional law, administrative law, tort law, contract law, and the law of restitution.  A limited selection of German statutes in English translation also is provided.
     

English Language Summaries of German Laws

  • Getting the Deal Through (GTDT)
    GDTD offers practitioner-written summaries of German laws governing 85 practice areas.  Each summary follows a question and answer format and includes references or citations to relevant primary laws.  Begin by selecting Germany as the jurisdiction form the drop-down menu in the center of the page.  Then select the desired practice area. 
     

German Language Resources

  • Gesetze im Internet (Laws on the Internet)
    This free database, maintained by the Federal Ministry of Justice and a commercial publisher, provides access to all federal codes, statutes, and ordinances currently in force.  English translations of selected codes and statutes are provided on this page.  All other content is in German.
     
  • Bundesgesetzblatt (Federal Law Gazette)
    Germany's official federal law gazette consists of two parts.  Part I (Tiel I) publishes federal statutes and ordinances as enacted in chronological order, plus parliamentary notices and announcements.  Part II (Teil II) publishes treaties and other international agreements, as well as agreements between the federal government and the länder.   The free online version is not searchable.  Browse chronologically by date.  Coverage is from 1949-present.
     

Research Assistance

If you need assistance with German legal research, visit the Research Help page of the Georgetown University Law Library's website. Or contact the Law Library's International and Foreign Law Department by phone (202-662-4195) or by email (lawintlref@georgetown.edu).  Georgetown Law Center students may schedule a one-on-one research consultation with a librarian.

German Länder (States)

Image by Escondites via Wikimedia Commons (CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 German License).

Questions? Need Help? Contact the International & Foreign Reference Department.

International & Foreign
Legal Research


(202) 662-4195



Request a Research Consultation

 

Update History

  • Revised 1/20 (chb)
  • Links updated 9/13 (mms)
  • Content and Links Revised 4/07 (aeb)