United Kingdom Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate legal materials for the United Kingdom.


The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government comprised of four constituent nations: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The Georgetown Law Library's extensive collection of UK legal materials is located on the fifth floor of the Williams Library.  All of these materials have call numbers that begin with the letters KD.

This guide to UK law focuses on current legal research.  For information about the UK's withdrawal from the European Union and its implications, visit the Brexit section of this guide.  For assistance with historical research, consult the Law Library's guides to English Legal History and Scottish Legal History

Key Resources for UK Legal Research

UK Legislation

  • Legislation.gov.uk 
    This free database, maintained by the UK's National Archives, includes both primary and secondary legislation for the UK as a whole, as well as legislation applicable ony in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

UK Case Law

  • ICLR Online
    This subscription database includes all cases reported in the The Law Reports (since 1865) and in The Weekly Law Reports (since 1952), as well as cases published in several subject-specific reporters.  It includes a citator, which provides links to both cited and citing cases, as well as subsequent appellant history.

  • vlexJustis
    This subscription database allows you to search the full texts of judgments issued by the UK Supreme Court and by the courts of England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  It also provides access to statutes and statutory instruments for the UK as a whole and for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  Use the Content menu to select either Legislation & Regulations or Case Law.

Comprehensive Legal Encyclopedia

  • Halsbury's Laws of England (5th ed.) Call No. KD310 .H3 2008
    This regularly updated multi-volume set is the preeminent legal encyclopedia for researching both statutory law and the development and evolution of common law principles in the U.K.  Organized hierarchically by title (subject) in numbered paragraphs, with each statement of the law leading to a footnote with citations to relevant authority.

UK Content for U.S. Academic Subscribers to Lexis & Westlaw

  • Lexis
    U.S. academic subscribers to Lexis may access statutes and statutory instruments currently in force in the UK as a whole and in Scotland; statutes currently in force in Wales; cases published in a wide range of commercially published UK case law reporters; a limited selection of secondary sources on UK law; and articles published in selected UK law journals.

  • Westlaw
    U.S. academic subscribers to Westlaw may access statutes and statutory instruments currently in force in the UK as whole and in Scotland; prior versions of UK-wide statutes and statutory instruments dating back to 1992; cases published in dozens of subject-specific UK case law reporters; historical cases published in The English Reports; a UK case law citator; a selection of secondary sources on UK law; and articles published in selected UK law journals.

Practitioner-Oriented Guidance on UK Law

  • Getting the Deal Through
    GTDT offers practitioner-written summaries of UK law governing dozens of practices areas ("work areas").  Each summary follows a question and answer format and includes references or citations to relevant primary law materials.  Begin by selecting the UK as the jurisdiction from the menu at the center of the page.  Then select the desired work area (practice area).

  • Thomson Reuters Practical Law - United Kingdom
    U.S. academic subscribers to Westlaw may access this online resource, which provides practitioner-written guidance on UK law for selected practice areas.  Content includes practice notes, checklists, and tool kits, plus standardized forms and document templates.

If you need assistance with UK 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.

United Kingdom Flag

Union Jack (UK flag)
Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons

The United Kingdom's Constituent Nations

Map of the UK's constituent nations
Source:  UKPhoenix79 via Wikimedia Commons
GNU Free Document License

Questions? Need Help? Contact the International & Foreign Law Dept.

International & Foreign
Legal Research

(202) 662-4195

Request a Research Consultation


Update History

  • Updated:  06/2022 (chb)
  • Updated: 10/2021 (chb)
  • Updated:  10/2019 (chb)
  • Updated:  03/2019 (chb)
  • Updated:  08/2018 (chb)
  • Updated:  03/2018 (chb)
  • Updated:  01/2018 (chb)
  • Updated:  07/2017 (chb)
  • Updated:  12/2016 (chb)
  • Updated:  09/2016 (chb)
  • Created:  05/2015 (chb)