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Databases: Databases for UK law

An introduction to IALS Library's electronic resources.

Journals and books


If you are looking for any articles on a particular topic...

For a wide-ranging literature search, Westlaw UK has the largest coverage; Lexis®Library is the other main source for UK articles.

Westlaw UK indexes every substantive legal journal article published in the UK since 1986, and also covers English-language journals published on the Continent. It has full-text articles from about ten per cent of these journals and abstracts from the rest; most, but not all, of the journals indexed focus on UK law. 

Lexis®Library's journal index goes back to 1995 and covers over 500 journals and blogs; more than half are published in the UK, but many are US publications. Lexis has more than 120 full-text journals, most of them published in the UK. 

There is some overlap between the journal collections on Westlaw UK and Lexis®Library, but many journals are only available in full on one of the two databases: for example. New Law Journal is on Lexis in full, but Westlaw only has abstracts from it; and Law Quarterly Review is on Westlaw UK in full, but Lexis only has abstracts.

For interdisciplinary journal research, see EBSCO Business, EBSCO Academic, JSTOR and Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law. All these databases are available via the Electronic Law Library (ELL). They include full-text journals and/or article abstracts/citations on a wide range of subjects, published in the UK and elsewhere. For details of each database, see the More Information buttons in the ELL.

If you are looking for a specific article...
Start with the Library Catalogue; individual e-journals are available via the catalogue, but they are not listed in the Electronic Law Library.

Enter the name of the journal, for example, Modern Law Review, not the title of the article. If the journal is available online at IALS, there is usually a link on the catalogue record; however, not all the journals on Lexis®Library currently have links from the catalogue.

If you need more help...
See our research guide, Finding Journal Articles

All our e-books are available via the Electronic Law Library in the collections detailed below; most are also listed individually on the Library Catalogue.

Oxford Scholarship Online provides thousands of law books published by Oxford University Press. The collection consists of monographs that are postgraduate level or higher (it does not include textbooks or handbooks). 

Cambridge Core provides a large collection of law books published by Cambridge University Press, including titles focusing on UK law.

Westlaw UK includes over 250 books and encyclopedias, most of them published by Sweet and Maxwell.

i-Law has a large collection of maritime law books published by Informa.

Lexis®Library has the encyclopedia, Halsbury's Laws of England and Wales, and ten books published by LexisNexis or OUP.

HeinOnline has a Legal Classics library which includes important UK law treatises from the 16th century onwards.

LLMC-Digital has a few 19th- and early 20th-century UK books in its Foreign Jurisdictions collection.

Dawson ERA has selected e-books from various different publishers, some of which are about UK law.


Need more help with UK research?

Cases and legislation


Westlaw UK and Lexis®Library both have UK law reports from 1220 onwards, with case citators for updating purposes. Some law reports are on both Westlaw and Lexis (e.g. English Reports), but most are not: for example, the All England Law Reports are on Lexis but not on Westlaw, and Commercial Law Cases is on Westlaw but not on Lexis.

Westlaw has unreported cases from 1967 onwards; Lexis has them from 1980 onwards.

Lexis has the Northern Ireland Law Reports (1945 - ) and a set of unreported cases called Northern Ireland Unreported Judgments (2001 - ). Westlaw has some NI unreported cases (late 1970s onwards), in its Transcripts collection.

Primary Legislation

Westminster Parliament
Westlaw UK has acts currently in force, as amended. It also has historical versions of acts, back to 1991.

Lexis®Library has acts currently in force, as amended, except acts that only apply to Scotland. It also has historical versions of acts, back to July 1998.

​Justis has the original text of acts from 1235 onwards. On the new 'JustisOne' platform it is not possible to select the legislation collection before you search, but after running a search you can select 'Legislation' from the 'All Results' drop-down menu.

Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales

Westlaw UK and Lexis®Library both have Scottish Parliament acts and Welsh acts/measures, as amended.

Justis has the original text of Scottish Parliament acts and Welsh acts/measures. On the new 'JustisOne' platform it is not possible to select the legislation collection before you search, but after running a search you can select 'Legislation' from the 'All Results' drop-down menu.

Northern Ireland
Westlaw has acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Orders in Council from 2000 onwards, as amended. (Northern Ireland Orders in Council are Northern Ireland statutes published in the form of UK statutory instruments; they have reference numbers prefixed with "N.I.".) Lexis does not have Northern Ireland legislation.

Justis has the original text of acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 2000 onwards and the original text of Northern Ireland Orders in Council (in the Statutory Instruments database) from about 1987 onwards. Some of the NI Orders on Justis are missing their "N.I" numbers. On the new 'JustisOne' platform it is not possible to select the legislation collection before you search, but after running a search you can select 'Legislation' from the 'All Results' drop-down menu.

Pre-1987 Northern Ireland Orders in Council may be available from the free websites BAILII or

Secondary legislation

UK statutory instruments (SIs): Lexis has all SIs in force for England and Wales, as amended; it does not have SIs applying only to Scotland. Westlaw has all UK SIs from 1992 onwards and a large selection of older SIs, all as amended. Westlaw includes UK SIs applying only to Scotland, unlike Lexis.

Justis has the original text of UK SIs from 1949 onwards. It also has pre-1949 SIs which were still in force on 31 December 1948 (from the 1948 HMSO revised edition). Justis includes UK SIs applying only to Scotland. On the new 'JustisOne' platform you can only select legislation after running a search: on the 'All Results' drop-down menu, click on 'Legislation'.

Scottish statutory instruments (SSIs - these are secondary legislative instruments made since devolution in 1999): Westlaw has Scottish statutory instruments as amended and Justis has them as originally made. Lexis does not have SSIs.

Welsh statutory instruments (secondary legislation made since devolution): Lexis and Westlaw both have English-language statutory instruments made by the Welsh Assembly, as amended; Justis has the original text. 

All the databases mentioned above are available to IALS Library members via the Electronic Law Library.

See also: BAILII and, free websites providing UK cases and legislation.