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Foreign, comparative and international law collections: Europe

An overview of print holdings and online resources

Need more help with European research?

See our detailed research guides for Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Spain and Switzerland.

We also have research guides for European Union law and the Council of Europe (the latter covers the European Court of Human Rights).

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



European law is one of IALS Library's main strengths. We have the law of individual European jurisdictions, material covering European law generally and a large European Union law collection. 

European regional material

The library has books, journals, law reports and other material covering Europe generally, including collections relating to the EU, the Council of Europe and other regional organisations. For full details of our EU and Council of Europe holdings (including European Court of Human Rights material), see the dedicated IALS research guides.

The fourth floor is the main location for general European material, but heavily-used titles are in the Short Loan Collection, behind the Enquiries Desk, and older material is kept in the basement Reserve (indicated by 'RES' or 'Depository' on the Catalogue).  

Western Europe

IALS Library's holdings for individual Western European jurisdictions are strongest for Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Other jurisdictions in Western Europe, including Nordic countries, are also covered in some depth. All these collections are located on the fourth floor, though one or two titles are in the Short Loan Collection and older material is in the basement Reserve (indicated by 'RES' or 'Depository' on the Catalogue).

Holdings for each jurisdiction consist of legislation, law reports, books, journals and other publications.They are mostly in the language of the jurisdiction concerned, but some English-language books and codes are held. We have produced detailed collection descriptions for Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Spain and Switzerland - see our jurisdictional research guides.

To find material for a particular jurisdiction, look up its classmark here, then search the Catalogue by classmark. Add .g to the classmark to find law reports only, or .j to find journals: for example GO15 is the classmark for German law, so a classmark search for go15.g will find German law reports. Alternatively, include the name of the jurisdiction in a keyword search on the Catalogue, for example, germany civil procedure.

Eastern Europe

General works
IALS has a current subscription to the looseleaf title Central and Eastern European Legal Materials, which publishes translated business and investment laws of about fifteen different jurisdictions, including Poland (but not Russia).

The East European Case Reporter of Constitutional Law, also held at IALS, has translated decisions of constitutional courts from across Eastern Europe.

IALS holds a number of books on the law of Eastern Europe generally, at various different classmarks, such as SB and GO45. We also subscribe to several journals, including the following titles:

  • Journal of Eurasian Law
  • Jahrbuch für Ostrecht
  • Law in Eastern Europe
  • Review of Central and East European Law.

Individual jurisdictions
The law of individual Eastern European jurisdictions is collected in far less depth than that of Western European jurisdictions. Russian law and Polish are the strongest collections; much less is held for other countries in the region. 

To see what is available for a specific jurisdiction, look up its classmark here, then use the Classmark search option on the Catalogue: enter go22 to find Hungarian material, for example. Alternatively, include the name of the jurisdiction in a keyword search, for example civil procedure hungary.

Databases covering European law

We have the French law databases Lexis 360 and Le Doctrinal, and the German law database Beck-online. (At the time of writing, October 2021, Lexis 360 was only accessible on-site, as there were technical problems with remote access.) 

Some Irish material is available on HeinOnline, Lexis®Library and Westlaw. Some of our databases cover many different jurisdictions, notably Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, IBFD Online, World Constitutions Illustrated and HeinOnline's Law Journal Library. 

EU material is available on Westlaw UK, Lexis®Library, EUR-Lex and elsewhere. Many of our journal databases and e-book collections cover EU law as well.

For full details of IALS online resources, see the Databases guide. Access to databases is via the Law Databases page, but for individual e-journals and e-books use the Library Catalogue.