United Kingdom Law

The University of Louisville Law Library has most of the resources necessary for serious research into the law of England and Northern Ireland. Research into the law of Scotland and the Irish Republic is more problematic and may require travel to other libraries.


  • Statutes

    There is no codification of English law comparable to the U.S. Code. Halsbury's Statutes of England, located in the Sub-Basement range 9 (SB-9), is the primary source of current statutory law. Halsbury's is fully indexed and is updated with a monthly Current Statutes Service and a Noter-Up. If you find a relevant enactment, you should always check the volume "Is It in Force" to see if it is still good law. For older laws, one can consult Statutes at Large (arranged by monarch) and Law Reports Statutes (arranged by year) (SB-8). These older materials are indexed in Index to Statutes, 1235-1982 (2 vol.) and Chronological Table of the Statutes, 1235-1981 (2 vol.), published by HMSO. The full text of Public Acts of Parliament (since 1988), Local Acts of Parliament (since 1991), and all Statutory Instruments (since 1987) are available on-line from Her Majesty's Stationery Office operating from within the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).

  • Case law

    There are two primary case-finders for English law. Halsbury's Laws of England (SB-1), now into its 4th edition (we also have the 1st & 3rd eds.), is the traditional choice. It is updated with an Annual Abridgement volume and by a two-volume, looseleaf Current Service. However, Butterworth's Digest (SB-1) is also very useful. It is updated with occasional continuation volumes and a paper annual supplement. In addition, many of the English reporters have indexes. The Law Reports since 1951 are indexed (index at SB-5), as are all of the All-England Law Reports (SB-6). Many of the special reporters like the Family Law Reports (SB-9) and Lloyd's Law Reports (SB-7) have their own indexes. Many of the English courts now report their decisions on-line. Links to courts reporting their decisions on-line can be found on Findlaw's United Kingdom Page.

  • Legislative History

    The primary sources of English legislative history--parliamentary white papers published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO)--are not part of the Law Library's collection. However, the library contains some Law Commission Reports (SB-9) and has a seven volume set of Law Commission Working Papers, 1966-1975 (SB-9). All Public Acts passed by Parliament are required to be submitted with Explanatory Memorandum.  Since June 2004, all Explanatory Memorandum are published on-line.

  • Law Reviews

    The Law Library has all of the major British law reviews. (Periodicals, 2nd Floor). Most are indexed in the Index to Legal Periodicals or the Current Index.

  • Treatises

    The Law Library has a relatively extensive collection of English legal treatises (Treatises, Basement), most catalogued as KE's in the Library of Congress system.

  • Legal History

    Older English law cases were reprinted in the English Reports. A table for converting old case citations into E.R. cites can be found on the pillar near the stairs. English translations of Old French and Latin treatises and documents can be found in English Historical Documents (SB-9) and in the publications of the Seldon Society (SB-10), the Ames Society (SB-9) and the London Record Society (SB-9). Early English Laws contains new editions and translations of all English legal codes, edicts and treatises produced up to 1215.


  • Statutes

    Many of the English statutes apply in Scotland. Tables in Halsbury's Statutes and in the Scottish Current Law Legislation Citator (SB-22) will assist you in determining which statutes do and do not apply to Scotland. These uniquely Scottish statutes are only collected in the loose-leaf Scottish Current Law Statutes, to which the U of L Law Library does not subscribe. Acts of Parliament that apply only to Scotland can be located on Her Majesty's Stationery Office website. See the section "Links to Acts of the UK Parliament and UK Statutory Instruments which apply exclusively or primarily to Scotland". The Scottish Parliament was originally abolished in 1707, but was recreated in 1998 by the Scotland Act. Acts of the Scottish Parliament since 1998 can be found on the Acts of the Scottish Parliament Page at Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

  • Case law

    Halsbury's Laws and the Digest contain a few leading Scottish cases. Most of the older Scottish law reports are not indexed. For more recent cases (i.e. those after 1948) one must go to the Scottish Current Law Year Book (SB-22). If you find a good case, the Scottish Current Law Citator can be used not only to check if it is good law, but also to find similar cases. Scottish Cases since 1998 can be located at the Scottish Courts Web Page.

  • Treatises

    Certain ancient Scottish legal treatises have "institutional" authority and are thus considered part of the common law. They include Lord Stair's Institutes of the Law of Scotland (1681) and the writings and lectures of Baron Hume (see Stair Society publications nos. 5, 13, 15, 17-19 on SB- 22). In general, Scottish legal treatises are catalogued in the KDC's. A good general survey is D.M. Walker's Principles of Scottish Private Law (2d ed. 1975) (KDC 330 .W35 1975). See also Lord Cooper, The Scottish Legal Tradition (KDC 296 .Z9 M47 1991).

  • Legislative History

    Since 2000, all Public Acts passed by the Scottish Parliament are required to be submitted with Explanatory notes, found on Her Majesty's Stationery Office website operating from within the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).

  • Legal History

    Many primary sources of Scottish legal history are reprinted in the publications of the Stair Society (SB-22). An Introductory Survey of the Sources and Literature of Scots Law (No. 1) and Introduction to Scottish Legal History (No. 20) are good starting places for a study of Scots law. Early English Laws contains new editions and translations of all English legal codes, edicts and treatises produced up to c.1215.

Northern Ireland

  • Statutes

    The statutory law of Northern Ireland has several overlapping sources: acts passed by the Irish parliament from 1300 to 1800; acts passed by the English parliament from 1226 to the present; acts passed by the Northern Ireland parliament from 1921 to 1972; Orders in Council enacted under the Northern Ireland Acts of 1972 and 1974; and acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 2000 to 2002. The Law Library only has the English materials, i.e. Halsbury's Statutes. Use tables to determine if the law applies to Northern Ireland. Statutes from and applying to Northern Ireland as well as Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 2000-2002 can be found at Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

  • B. Case Law

    The best way to find Northern Ireland cases is to consult the cumulative index to the Northern Ireland Law Reports (SB-23). The Digest (see above) also covers leading Irish cases. Cases from the Court of Appeals of Northern Ireland and the High Court of Northern Ireland are available on-line since 1998 through the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.

The Irish Republic

  • A. Statutes

    Before 1922, English statutes applied in Ireland. The acts of Republic of Ireland are collected in the looseleaf set Irish Current Law Statutes Annotated. We do not have this set, however, Irish Statutes and Statutory Instruments (regulations and orders) from 1922-present are available on-line through the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.

  • B. Case law

    While the Law Library has most of the important Irish case reporters, it does not carry the Digest of Cases (roughly 1838-1867), the "Pink Lists" (1976 to present). However, we do have the "Red Index" (Index to Irish Superior Court Written Judgments, 1976-1982) (KDK 65.2 .I53 1984). If you plan to research Irish case law see J. Dane et al, How to Use a Law Library (KD 392 .D36 1996) pp.189- 191. Cases of the Irish Supreme Court from 1999-present and High Court since 1996 are available on-line through the British and Irish Legal Information Institute.

  • C. Constitution

    The 1922 Constitution is the cornerstone of modern Irish law. It can be found in Constitutions of the Countries of the World (Treatises, K 3157 .A2B5 1971; updated). The Irish Government also provides the text of the Constitution on-line in Irish and English (The All-Party Oireachtas Committee On The Constitution).

  • D. Treatises

    Irish law treatises are catalogued as KDK's.

Further Directions

  • Given the U of L Law Library's focus on American law, it is inevitable that a serious research project concerning foreign law may require a visit to a library that specialized in international law. Nearby, both Indiana University and Vanderbilt have excellent foreign law collections.
Bibliography: J. Dane & P.A. Thomas, How to Use a Law Library (KD 392 .D36 1996); D.W. Walker, Oxford Companion to Law (1980).