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Foreign Labor Law Research Guide: Getting Started

A guide for researching the labor and employment laws of other countries.

About

This research guide covers the resources available to members of the Loyola community who are researching labor laws in foreign countries.  Access to some of the electronic resources included in this guide is limited to users who have a valid Loyola ID and password; access to other resources is restricted to the law school community only.

If you have any questions about using any of the sources listed in this guide, or any other reference questions, please contact one of our Reference Librarians at (312) 915-7205, by e-mail at LoyolaLawReference@luc.edu, or in person at the Reference Desk (Law Library, 3rd floor).

Map of Legal Systems

Sponsored by the University of Ottawa, JuriGlobe is a multilingual databank that provides general information on world legal systems.  Countries are categorized by type of legal system, and a color-coded map is included that displays the geographic distribution of legal systems.

Introduction

Foreign law is the law of individual nations other than the United States.  Like U.S. law, foreign law is typically embodied in constitutions, statutes, cases, and regulations; however, the relative importance of the varying types of law will vary depedending upon the legal system of the country in question.

Locating, and also interpreting, sources of foreign law can be extremely challenging, even for seasoned legal researchers.  Keep in mind that, when approaching a question related to foreign law, it is often advantageous to start with a secondary source.  There are many useful print sources and online guides in English that can serve as introductions to understanding and researching foreign law.  Look for some of these resources listed listed under the "Books," "Journals", "Databases," and "Web Resources" tabs.

Understanding Civil Law

Most countries today are based on civil law systems. In contrast to the common law system found in the United States (and most former British colonies), under a civil law system, most law is found in extensive codes and constitutions. Although these types of countries do have judicial systems, their court cases are typically not considered binding precedent in the way they are under comon law systems.

An excellent introduction to civil law systems is available via the link listed below. Other books on civil law may be located using the Library's online catalog  (see the "Books" tab for more information).

Translating Foreign Law

Another frustrating aspect of conducting foreign law research is that primary source materials are printed in the official language of each nation, which means that frequently there are no official English language translations available.  While this guide provides tools for finding translated versions, as well as links to online translators, keep in mind that these generally will not be considered official and may or may not be reliable.

If authoritative versions are not available, look for "official" translations that are created by, or for, a government organization.  Further, look for synoptic translations, which allow for side-by-side comparisons of the vernacular with the English translation.

Many online translators are available on the Web, but these should be used with caution since web translators do not generally include specialized legal or commercial vocabulary.  Online translators, however, may be of some help in getting the general sense of a document or passage.  Some examples of online translators:

Subject Guide

Joe Mitzenmacher
Contact:
Reference & Electronic Services Librarian
Philip H. Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson St.
Chicago, IL 60611
312-915-6844

Print Research Guide

Prepared in the summer of 2009, this 22-page guide offers instructions and tips on how to research foreign, comparative, and international law at the LUC Law Library.  The annotated guide lists print reference sources, subscription databases, free websites, and current awareness sources that may be useful when approaching foreign, comparative, and international law questions.