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Subject guides

Law

What is this guide?

This guide is where you can quickly find out about key sources of legal information

Why do I need this guide?

University students need to work with quality information materials to ensure good marks. For legal topics you often need specialist databases to locate this kind of information. Relevant databases are provided under the tabs above.

The UK is a "Common Law" country. This means that the law is built on the judgments that have been given in previous cases. Judges can apply or consider previous judgments in cases which cover similar points of law. Or they can distinguish between, what might appear to be similar, cases, by pointing out that there are different legal aspects to be considered in the more recent case. This ensures that the law is constantly adapting to the country's changing needs.

Key databases for finding cases:

Westlaw UK (England and Wales, Scotland, EU, US, International treaties)
Lexis Library (Athens username and password required) (England and Wales)
BAILII (England and Wales and many other countries via WorldLII)
EUR-Lex  (EU legislation – Treaties, regulations, directives and decisions etc.)
European Court of Human Rights  (Council of Europe)
International Court of Justice (United Nations)

There are two main types of UK legislation: Primary and Secondary.

Primary legislation refers to Statutes, of which again there are two types: Public General Acts and Local and Private Acts. The vast majority of statutes that you will need to find are Public General Acts.

Secondary legislation includes regulations and orders, which are usually released as Statutory Instruments (SIs).

N.B. Legislation is often amended, so remember to check for any amendments if you need the most recent version.

Key databases for finding legislation:

Westlaw UK (England and Wales, Scotland, EU, US, International treaties)
EUR-Lex  (EU legislation – Treaties, regulations, directives and decisions etc.)
 

Journal articles are helpful for discovering more about specific topics and are used increasingly as you progress through your studies. Download the VPN client to search these databases off campus. When searching in the databases, look out for PDF, HTML or SFX links to connect you to the full-text.

Key databases for journal articles: