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Law

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How to find Acts of Parliament.

How to research Case Law

 

  • Find that case!

    A brief introduction to case law research using both online databases and hard copy reference works, produced by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales (ICLR).

Legal information sources

Law reports are reports of cases heard in courts. The UK (and many other commonwealth countries and the U.S.) is acknowledged as a "common law" jurisdiction. As judges apply and interpret the law, they rely not only on rules made by Parliament (Statutes or Acts of Parliament), but on previous judicial decisions. This is known as the doctrine of precedent and explains why the study of cases is central and why law libraries give so much shelf space to volumes of law reports.

Online sources of law reports and other case information including free websites, and Information databases/search tools that allow you to search for relevant law reports. 

British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)

Provides access to British and Irish legal materials. The service includes decisions from courts and tribunals in 14 databases from 5 jurisdictions. Good place to look for unreported cases.

House of Lords judgements

Browse archived judgments delivered by the Law Lords from 14 November 1996 to 30 July 2009.

ICLR Law Reports Online (via Westlaw)

ICLR Law Reports Online (via LNB)

WLR Daily case summaries

ICLR publishes free WLR Daily case summaries of all cases. You can search for any case summarised as a WLR Daily from 2010 onward here.

In the UK, one of the two main sources of law (along with the Courts) is Parliament. Parliament passes rules, or laws, also known as Acts of Parliament or Statutes. Legislation also includes the secondary legislation, or Statutory Instruments, that give the detail needed to apply those Acts. There is also legislation made by the European Union that relates to the UK.

Westlaw UK 

Large legal database. The fully up-to-date and consolidated full text of all UK legislation. Historic versions of Acts go back to 1991 and historic versions of SIs go back to 1948. Includes information about each piece of legislation including commencement dates, amendments, repeals, etc. Cross-linking to related legislation and other related documents. Ability to print entire documents or browse to and print specific sections.

Lexis Library 

Large legal database. The fully up-to-date and consolidated full text of all UK legislation. Cross-linking to related legislation and other related documents. Ability to print entire documents or browse to and print specific sections of the legislation.

UK Statute Law Database
Official, freely available source of revised edition of UK legislation.

UK Statutory Instruments

Freely available on the government's web pages. Tells you what stage the legislation is at but doesn't tell you about revisions to law (use the Legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis for that).

 

Repealed legislation

Please note the full text of repealed legislation is not available in full via the Library databases. if you need historic legislation and cannot find it on ​

Current Law Statutes. This series is available in the Library from 1958 up to date. Located in the Library Law Collection, on the third floor, Sheila Silver Library, in the Statutes section. Legislation is as enacted rather than revised.

Arranged chronologically with brief notes to assist with interpretation. To find out about repeals you also need to consult the Current Law Legislation Citator and the Current Law Monthly Digest.

Statutes at Large. This series is available in the Library from 1225-1865. Located in the Library Law Collection, on the third floor, Sheila Silver Library, in the Statutes section.  Legislation is as enacted rather than revised. Arranged chronologically. No notes or indicators of which parts are repealed or in force.

Law Reports Statutes. This series is available in the Library from 1866-1997. Located in the Library Law Collection,  on the third floor, Sheila Silver Library, in the Statutes section. Legislation is as enacted rather than revised. Arranged chronologically. No notes or indicators of which parts are repealed or in force.

Public General Acts. This series is available in the Library from 1968-1986. Located in the Library Law Collection in the Sheila Silver Library, in the Statutes section. Legislation is as enacted rather than revised. Arranged chronologically. No notes or indicators of which parts are repealed or in force.

British official publications

UK Parliament: Publications

The UK Parliament web pages tell you about the different type of publications that Parliament produces and how to get hold of them.

Hansard 

The official report of all parliamentary debates. From the 19th Century to the present day.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

Library subscription database with over 200,000 House of Commons sessional papers from 1715, with supplementary material back to 1688.

British Non-Parliamentary Papers
Historical non-parliamentary papers (papers produced by individual government departments and agencies) dating back to the 19th Century.

Library Catalogue

Search the Library Catalogue for official publications in the Library.

National Archives (was the Public Records Office).

 

 

Websites

UK Parliament

Freely available Web pages of the UK Parliament. Information about the work of both Houses, including the progress of Bills, the work of Committees and the Law Lords. 

OPSI chronological tables of local and Personal Acts

Freely available web page on the OPSI (Office of Public Sector Information) website.

These tables produced by OPSI list all Private and Personal Acts from 1539-2000 and Local Acts from 1797-2000. Lists rather than full text of Acts.