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Finding sources of UK Law

Page history last edited by Cecilia Tellis 12 years, 4 months ago


General information on the UK Legal System

*       Guide to the UK Legal System (GlobaLex)



Guides on conducting legal research

*       United Kingdom: A Legal Research Primer for Canadian Lawyers




*       Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

*       Appendices in books (e.g. McGill Guide)

*       Listed in the introductory pages of a book




*       uOttawa Library catalogue

*       Start catalogue search broadly. Use "keyword" and do not place date, language or other limits unless necessary.

*       Take note of the call number and location of the items.

*       Not available at uOttawa? See how to Borrow from other libraries






Databases/websites to search:

Ø       Quicklaw

Ø       WestlaweCarswell (Westlaw UK tab)

Ø       Bailii.org

If you know the name of the case

*       Check first in electronic legal databases. Use the “Find by name” option if available.

*       If the case is too recent, check on the court’s website. An official transcript of the case may be available as opposed to the judgment as it would be made available in a reporter (with catchwords, headnotes, etc.)


If you have a citation to a case

*       Check first in electronic legal databases. Use the “Find by citation” option if available.

*       If the case is too recent, check on the court’s website.

Finding summaries of cases

*       See Current Law Monthly Digest

Finding cases on a subject/legal issue

Consult secondary sources like:

*       Halsbury’s Laws of England

*       The Digest

*       The Law reports. Index.

*       Textbooks

Tracing the judicial history of a case

*       Electronically: In WestlaweCarswell, use the “KeyCite” feature.


Finding cases that consider a statute, regulation or rule of practice

Electronically: Use the “Case Locators” search in Westlaw UK. Fill in the “Legislation Cited” field and if necessary, the “Provision No.” field. You can also use the UK Legislation Locator which provides corresponding references to citing case law and secondary sources.


General statements of the law

*       Use the library catalogue to find textbooks

*       The Digest

*       Halsbury’s Laws of England: a complete narrative statement in an alphabetical title scheme of English Law from all its sources, not just statutes and statutory instruments.



Government publications

*       See guide created by Law Library Information Services staff at Cardiff University: Government Sources and UK Official Publications

*       See also: House of Commons Parliamentary Papers [electronic resource]

Journal articles/case comments









*       Westlaw UK (via WestlaweCarswell) > search Legal Journals Index or UK Journals

*       Quicklaw > browse Source Directory > United Kingdom > various options including: Legal Journals; Commentary; Legal Indices & Tables

*       LegalTrac

*       Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals

*       Index to Legal Periodicals Full-Text

*       Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective








*       See guide created by Law Library Information Services staff at Cardiff University: UK Legislation Web Sites for Law



To find very recent legislation: Current law statutes annotated. Service file.


To find annotated statutes: Halsbury's statutes of England and Wales or Current law statutes annotated also Current law legislation citators



To know the date a particular provision of an Act came into force: Is it in Force? a guide to the commencement of statutes passed since 1st January 1960-



To find amendments or repeals of statutes: Halsbury's Statutes Citator: the guide to the current status of statutes or Current law legislation citators



Legislation can be found in both Westlaw UK and Quicklaw.




*       See: How to Find Theses and Research Papers (uOttawa)



Words and phrases

*    Greenberg, Daniel. Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases, 7th ed. (London : Sweet & Maxwell, 2006).

*    Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1985).

*    Martin, Elizabeth A. & Jonathan Law, ed. A Dictionary of Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).



For current judicial interpretations, the indexes to The Law Reports, the All England Law Reports and the Weekly Law Reports all have a section of 'words and phrases', and for the most recent developments, Current Law Monthly Digest has words and phrases listed under “W” in the subject headings.[1]

[1] University of Warwick Main Library, Guide to UK Legal Research,  online:


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