This research guide describes how to generally find foreign law using print and online resources available at or through the Gould Law Library as well as on free, reliable (i.e., reasonably accurate and current) websites. Coverage includes primary and secondary materials. If the Library or a free, reliable website has a specific guide for the country or jurisdiction you are researching, then use that guide instead of this one.
This guide was prepared by Roy L. Sturgeon, JD, LLM, MLS, in 2010, when Roy was a Reference Librarian at the Gould Law Library.
Foreign law usually means the law of a nation (or group of nations with a common legal system, such as the European Union) not one’s own. It is sometimes mistaken for international law,which is the law between or among nations that have expressly or tacitly agreed to be bound by it.* Foreign law may consist of constitutions (written and unwritten), codes/statutes, regulations, and court decisions.** It does not have effect outside that nation’s boundaries, but may regulate or bind foreign entities and persons inside that nation.
* For more information on this important distinction, read "Is Foreign Law International Law?"
** Court decisions in foreign nations - especially non-common law jurisdictions - are not always primary law as in the United States.