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LAW Foreign Cases and Decisions

This guide is intended to help researchers locate the cases and decisions of foreign jurisdictions.

Foreign Cases and Decisions

Foreign law is the domestic, national or internal law of a country or jurisdiction. A case is a decision made by a court or board or tribunal.

This guide is intended to help researchers locate the cases and decisions of foreign jurisdictions. The tabs found above will open pages that have links to some relevant key sources. Legal databases may be restricted to University of Calgary users or to Faculty of Law users. It does not include international law. If that is your topic, there is an International Law guide you may wish to use in your research. 

Countries are considered either common law or civil law jurisdictions. Common law countries are largely part of the Commonwealth or formerly part of the British Empire. In civil law countries, released cases are made available by courts, boards, and tribunals.

All countries release cases that are often published in case reports or reporters and may be available in print or electronically. Reporters fit into three categories: official, unofficial general or unofficial topical. Judgements are published directy by the court or tribunal from where the decision was made. Cases may also be found in journals or legal newspapers.

You may be able to find foreign reporters in print on the 1st floor of the law library.

Selected Secondary Sources for Foreign Law

Published (reported) cases may be located by topic, case name or citation. Citations may be found in books or articles. Reported cases can be located on legal databases using their citation

  • The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals is available on the database HeinOnline. If a journal is there, it may be available in fulltext.
  • LegalTrac indexes U.S., U.K., and Australian legal periodicals, from 1980 to present.

Conducting foreign legal research

Look at research guides for a specific country to determine what information is available. Foreign Law Guide is a database that decribes legal systems and references sources of law. It may also provide information about English translations.

Look for a LII (Legal Information Institute) website, or something similar, for that particular country. See what legal materials are available at WorldLII.

Generally, the steps are the same as for Canadian legal research:

  • Start with secondary sources which include encyclopedias, books and journal articles. They provide an overview of the law and background information and give references (citations) to relevant legislation.
  • Use the library catalogue or the big search box on the main library page to locate books. Search the online catalogue under "subject" with terms "law" and the country's name. If you have the title of a case reporter, search for it in the library catalogue to determine availability and location.
  • Continue with primary materials including legislation, regulations and cases.
  • Ensure the law is current.

Foreign Law Research Guides

Links to Internet sources useful for background information on legal systems of various countries:

Abbreviations

Prince's Dictionaries

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Availability of Foreign Materials

  • Case law is generally  jurisdiction specific.
  • Many countries have court websites on the Internet . The amount available will depend on the country.
  • Not everything is on the Internet.
  • Not everything is written in English and cases tend not to be translated as often as legislation.
  • Not every case gets published so not every case is searchable.

How to find Country Information

Information about countries and regions may be found in a number of resources.  The How to Find Country Information guide will provide an overview of the resources that are available at the University of Calgary Library.  The guide provides tips on how to use the various Discovery Tools available as well a selection of websites.

Impact of foreign law on Canadian Law

When dealing with foreign countries in relation to Canadian law, look at their court system to determine how persuasive a case will be in Canadian courts.