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Foreign, comparative and international law collections: Commonwealth

An overview of print holdings and online resources

Need more help with Commonwealth research?

See our detailed Commonwealth research guide. We also have single-jurisdiction research guides for the following Commonwealth member states: Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, the United Kingdom and Zambia.

We'd love to hear your comments about this Research Guide.



IALS Library has strong Commonwealth law collections. As well as recent publications, our holdings include a unique collection of historical Commonwealth legislation transferred to IALS from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library and held under a trust deed. For detailed information, please see our Commonwealth countries research guide.


Please note that IALS does not collect the law of Pakistan, Bangladesh, or the Indian states; nor do we cover recent entrants to the Commonwealth such as Mozambique; these jurisdictions are covered by SOAS Library.

The Commonwealth as a whole

For print material relating to the Commonwealth generally (as against individual member states), search the Catalogue by classmark GB1. This collection comprises approximately two hundred books, several journals and other publications. Key titles include:

Law Reports of the Commonwealth  (print and online)

Commonwealth Law Bulletin (print online)

Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal  (print and online)

The main open-shelf location for GB1 classmarks is the fourth floor reading room. Older material is kept in the basement Reserve, indicated by 'RES' or 'Depository' on the Catalogue.

See also regional publications, such as the Journal of African Law and West Indian Reports (both these titles are available in print and online).

Individual Commonwealth jurisdictions

The library collects legal material from the vast majority of the Commonwealth jurisdictions: legislation, law reports, journals, book, law reform reports and other publications. State or provincial materials are held for a few jurisdictions, notably Canada and Australia. 

The extent of each jurisdictional collection depends on factors such as the size of the country - thus we have a lot more for Australia and South Africa than we do for Cyprus; however, we have good Caribbean collections.

Each jurisdiction has its own classmark, but many books on the law of Canada, Australia and New Zealand are located at classmark SJ (Common Law Subjects), not under the jurisdictional collection, so it is often better to search the Catalogue by key word rather than classmark: for example canada torts.


Online resources are available for many Commonwealth jurisdictions: see our Databases guide for details.