How do I find English translations of Foreign Laws?

Tips from Lyonette Louis-Jacque, Foreign and International Law Librarian at University of Chicago, D'Angelo Law Library, author of How to Find Foreign Case Law in English Translation 

  1. Check the Foreign Law Guide (this is a subscription database that gives you citations to translations of legislation – it used to be called Reynolds & Flores’ Foreign Law: Current Sources of Codes and Basic Legislation in Jurisdictions of the World);
  2. Check to see if the law has been separately published  by searching your library catalog, WorldCat, or other union or mega-library catalogs for the title in English or by searching in the original language and limiting to language = English;
  3. Search a full-text law journal database (because articles therein have to include sources of the text/citations) – so HeinOnline, Lexis, Westlaw, Google Scholar, Digital Law Commons; And if appropriate, JSTOR and other non-law databases;
  4. Check Google Books to see if it’s been cited in a footnote or reprinted as an appendix;
  5. Check established sources of foreign law in English translation;
  6. If these attempts fail, consider legal research guides for that country in book or article format, contacting people resources (folks who write the research guides like the GlobaLex ones, Ask-A-Law-Librarian services at your nearest library, area studies bibliographers – especially if you don’t know the language, etc.; look at your local resources;
  7. If all else fails, consider asking for help on INT-LAW, IALLMembers, and other relevant listservs with foreign law specialists/people resources.
  8. Also, a longer FAQ would add something about being cautious about using translations, etc.

Note. In your searches, you can use the law name, number, date  (in the vernacular/original language or in English) and add “translation” OR “English translation” OR “translated” OR “translating” OR “English version” OR any other combination that might be used. And consider that foreign language sources might include English translations of cases, so if you really want to be thorough, you can do searches using the German, French, or Spanish words for “English translation”.

Updated: Jul 26, 2017

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