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Databases: Databases for UK law

An introduction to IALS Library's electronic resources.

Databases heading

Need more help with UK research?

See our UK law research guide.

Cases

Westlaw UK and Lexis®Library both have UK law reports from 1220 onwards, with case citators for updating purposes. The Law Reports (the leading UK series, published by ICLR) and some other series are on both Westlaw and Lexis, but for the most part the collections do not overlap: for example, only Lexis has the All England Law Reports, only Westlaw has Commercial Law Cases.

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

Scotland and Northern Ireland
Westlaw has numerous Scottish law reports, including Session Cases, Scots Law Times, Scottish Civil Law Reports and Scottish Criminal Case Reports; Scottish cases are included in Westlaw's Transcripts collection.

Lexis has Session Cases, Scottish Civil Law Reports and Scottish Criminal Case Reports, plus a collection of transcripts called Scottish Court Opinions.

Westlaw has Northern Ireland judgments in its Transcripts collection.

Lexis has the Northern Ireland Law Reports, Northern Ireland Judgments Bulletin and a collection of transcripts, Northern Ireland Unreported Judgments

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

Legislation

Primary legislation

Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster)
Westlaw UK has acts as amended. It also has historical versions of acts, back to 1991.

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


vLex‚ÄčJustis has the original text of acts from 1235 onwards.


Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales

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

vLexJustis has the original text of Scottish Parliament acts and Welsh acts/measures.

Northern Ireland
Westlaw has all acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as amended. It also has Northern Ireland Orders in Council* from 1991 onwards as amended. Lexis does not have Northern Ireland legislation.

*Northern Ireland Orders in Council are Northern Ireland statutes published in the form of UK statutory instruments. The official HMSO / TSO versions have numbers prefixed with 'NI', as well as SI numbers, but the Westlaw versions omit the NI numbers. 

vLexJustis 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 collection) from about 1987 onwards. 

Many, but not all, pre-1987 Northern Ireland Orders in Council are on the official website, Legislation.gov.uk.

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, as amended. Westlaw includes UK SIs applying only to Scotland, but Lexis does not.

vLexJustis has the original text of UK SIs from 1949 onwards, and pre-1949 SIs that were still in force on 31 December 1948 (from the HMSO revised edition of SIs). It  includes UK SIs applying only to Scotland. 

Scottish statutory instruments (SSIs) 
SSIs are post-devolution Scottish secondary legislation. Westlaw and Lexis have them as amended and vLex
Justis has them as originally made.

Welsh statutory instruments
These are statutory instruments made by the Welsh authorities since devolution; they have reference numbers prefixed 'W.' as well as SI numbers, for example, 2017 No. 1274 (W. 296). Lexis and Westlaw both have English-language statutory instruments for Wales, as amended, and vLexJustis has them in their original versions. 

See also: BAILII and Legislation.gov.uk, free websites providing UK legislation

Journals

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

Encore Discovery can be used to do a basic search for journal articles, but for technical reasons it does not search all of our e-resources, and only searches Westlaw UK on site at IALS (see 'More Information' button for Encore Full Text Discovery, at https://ials.sas.ac.uk/library/legal-databases-and-digital-resources/law-databases/e).

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

Westlaw UK aims to index every substantive legal journal article published in the UK since 1986; it 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, covering more than 1,000 journals altogether. The main focus is on UK law (EU, foreign and international law are also covered).

Lexis®Library's Journals Index Plus goes back to 1995; it used to cover over 500 journals, but now covers about 150 (the majority of which are also available in full-text form); most of them are published in the UK; the main focus is on UK law, but EU, foreign and international law are also covered.

There is some overlap between the full-text journal collections on Westlaw UK and Lexis®Library, but many journals are only available in full-text form on one or the other: for example New Law Journal is on Lexis (1987 onwards), but Westlaw has abstracts only; Law Quarterly Review is on Westlaw (1986 onwards), but Lexis has abstracts only.

For interdisciplinary journal research, see EBSCOhost and JSTOR, which cover thousands of journals on a wide range of subjects, published in the UK and elsewhere (either full-text or indexed/abstracted). They are available via the IALS Law Databases page, but remote access to both is restricted to readers with a SAS or Senate House Library card.

If you are looking for a specific journal article...
Start with the IALS Library Catalogue
. Do a Title search for the name of the journal (not the article), for example, Modern Law Review. 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 have links from the Catalogue).

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

Books

Encore Discovery can be used to do a basic search within our e-book holdings, but it does not cover everything that we have, and one of the collections that it excludes is Westlaw Books, an important resource for UK legal research. Most of our e-books are listed on the classic Library Catalogue, but the classic catalogue does not search within e-books, it only searches their titles, subject headings and (where available) contents lists.

Instead of using Encore, you can search these e-book collections one at a time from the Law Databases page:  

        Cambridge Core: Cambridge University Press law e-books

         Ebook Central: selected law ebooks from a variety of publishers

Elgaronline: e-books from Edward Elgar Publishing

Hart e-book collection: law titles from Hart Publishing

HeinOnline: the Legal Classics library includes important UK law treatises from the 16th century onwards

i-Law: maritime law books published by Informa

Lexis®Library: Halsbury's Laws of England and Wales and about 40 UK books

LLMC-Digital: a few 19th- and early 20th-century UK law titles are included in the Foreign Jurisdictions collection

Oxford Legal Research Library: leading works published by Oxford University Press (mainly international and UK law)

Oxford Scholarship Online: law e-books from Oxford University Press that are classed as postgraduate-level or higher (does not include textbooks or handbooks)

Taylor and Francis E-books: selected law ebooks published by Taylor & Francis 

Westlaw UK: over 380 books and encyclopedias, most of them on UK law