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Spain: IALS Library Guides

An introduction to legal research in the jurisdiction of Spain

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Last updated:

Katherine Read, May 2019 (currently being updated)

About the author KR

This guide was created by Katherine Read, Principal Library Assistant at the IALS Library.


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Useful links

We also recommend the following online research guides for foreign jurisdictions.


Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe. It has gone through great political, economic and legal changes in recent years, and continues to do so.

The majority of the primary resources accessible at IALS are in Spanish. Details are given of the English language sources where available.



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Primary sources: Constitution

Similar to other continental jurisdictions, IALS sources are mainly commercial publications rather than official ones.

Legislación Constitucional. Editorial Ariel, 2005-6 (Pedro Cruz Villalón) provides the text of the Constitution accompanied by related legislation.

Constitución y Tribunal Constitucional 28th ed. 2012  (Civitas)

A Spanish language version  of the Constitution is also available on the official website of the 'Senado'.

A valuable online resource for material relating to foreign constitutions, which started in 2010, is World Constitutions Illustrated. This is a contemporary and historical collection of documents, which is available as part of the IALS subscription to HeinOnline. It is available to all users on site at IALS. Offsite access is limited to staff and students of IALS, SAS and University of London. It includes consolidated and original texts of the Constitution for different periods in time. It also provides full text links to a range of historical commentaries and articles about the Spanish Constitution, selected by the editors.

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Primary Sources: Codes and statutes

Spanish law is based mainly on Roman law, and much of the basic law derives from codes which were compiled in the 19th century under the influence of the Napoleonic codes.

The most important codes are the Código Civil (Civil Code); Código Comercio (Commercial Code); Código Penal (Penal Code); Ley de Enjuiciamiento Civil (Law of Civil Procedure) and Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal (Law of Criminal Procedure; together with the later Código del Trabajo (Labour Code) and Leyes Civiles Forales (Civil Law of the Provinces).

The Biblioteca Juridíca Digital is an open access Government source of current codes  in full text. It indicates those currently being revised and refers users to an additional alert service which requires subscription. 

The most recent editions of the codes we have in the library are those published by Editorial Civitas in their series Biblioteca de Legislación. These unofficial commercially published annotated editions include:-

Código Civil, 43rd ed. 2020
Código Penal, 38th ed. 2012
Leyes del Trabajo 6th ed. 2012

Spanish legislation becomes law once it is published in the Boletin Oficial del Estado (Spanish official gazette), which is freely available online in full text from 1st January 1960 at  For legislation added since 1st January 2009, this electronic source is now deemed to be an official and authentic source. For earlier material users who require an official source still need to consult the printed volumes. These are not held at IALS.

This site offers free access to the following resources. Users can search and retrieve documents free of charge. A subscription is required for access to added editorial commentary. All texts are in Spanish only:

Full text of the Boletin Oficial from 1960-
Archive of historical editions of the Boletin from 1661-1959
Full text of Spanish legislation from 1960

The BOE website provides a more detailed summary of the coverage.

Commercial series: IALS previously subscribed to an authoritative commercial series of legislation: Repertorio Cronológico de Legislación. This series started publication in 1930 and IALS incomplete holdings are from 1975 until 2006. Cumulative indices are also available.

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Law Reports

As with most civil law countries, judicial decisions are not of primary importance. Judicial decisions (sentencias) of the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo) collectively called 'jurisprudencia' are not binding decisions although they have some persuasive force. It seems in practice that the commercial series of judicial decisions are more popular than official sources. Judicial decisions of the Supreme Court have been published in the official Gaceta de Madrid (Madrid Gazette), but this has been unwieldy and access is not straightforward. Consequently because of these difficulties the commercial sources have come to be preferred.

The main commercial series of law reports are:

Repertorio de Jurisprudencia, 1930-31 onwards. Editorial Aranzadi, Pamplona

This is a comprehensive collection of judicial decisions of the Supreme Court. The IALS library has this from l980, Volume 47 until 2006 (vols. 1-6). It contains the majority of all public international law cases.

Repertorio Aranzadi del Tribunal Constitucional, (Decisions of the Constitutional Court) l981 onwards. Editorial Aranzadi, Pamplona (not held at IALS)

The Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) has nationwide jurisdiction over issues relating to the Constitution and is not part of the judicial branch. Decisions of the Constitutional Court set binding precedent as interpretations of the Constitution. IALS does not subscribe but these decisions from 1980 onwards can be searched within the BOE website at

Further sources of decisions include:

Revista de la Corte Española de Arbitraje (Journal of the Spanish Arbitration Court) 1984 onwards (not held at IALS)

This contains published decisions of international arbitration.

Revista Española de derecho international, 1945 onwards (held at IALS)

This contains extracts and notes of public international law cases (as reported in the Repertorio de Jurisprudencia) but not full reports.

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The library holds a selection of Spanish legal periodicals, including all the older well-established titles. A list of the current titles only follows with an indication of our holdings:

Anuario de Derecho Civil. l948, Volume 1 onwards
Revista Española de Derecho Constitucional. 1998, Vol. 18 (52) onwards

Revista Española de Derecho Internacional. 1948 onwards (incomplete) 
Revista Jurídica de Cataluña, 1950 onwards
Revista Jurídica de Cataluña, Jurisprudencia.1971 onwards

Spanish Yearbook of International Law 1991 onwards (electronic from 2012)

It is also worth noting the Revue Européenne de Droit Public/ European Review of Public Law, (held at IALS from 1999 onwards).  This is the first multi-national and multi-lingual review intended to promote the knowledge of the public law of each European country to fellow members of the Community. What looks particularly interesting in this context are the annotated bibliographies for member countries.

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The following selection is a representative sample of the holdings in Spanish law at IALS. Please consult the catalogue for further texts.

Administrative law:

Curso de Derecho Administrativo  Eduardo García  de Enterrí​a and Tomás-Ramó​n Ferná​ndez   CivitasThomson Reuters 2020

Manual de Derecho Administrativo  Luis M. Cosculluela Montaner. 31st ed.   Civitas 2020

Constitutional law:

Derecho constitucional  2 vols. Luis López Guerra. 9th ed. Tirant lo Blanch 2013

La Reforma de la justicia constitucional.  prólogo,  Eduardo Espín Templado and others. Thomson Aranzadi 2006

Commercial law:

Lecciones de derecho mercantil 2 vols. Aurelio Menéndez and others. Civitas 2015

Derecho financiero y tributario   F. Pérez Royo & F. Carrasco González   30th ed. Thomson Reuters Civitas 2020

Criminal law:

Derecho Penal: Parte especial.  F. Münoz Conde  22nd  ed. Tirant lo Blanch 2019 

Enjuiciamiento Criminal  33rd ed. Aranzadi Civitas   2012

El proceso penal práctico: comentarios, jurisprudencia, comentarios.  7th ed. Wolters Kluwer 2017

Environmental law: 

Manual de derecho urbanistico  Tomás Ramón Fernández.  Civitas Thomson Reuters 2017

Family law:

Comentarios a las Reformas de Derecho de Familia de 2005. José Ramón De Verda y Beamonte. Aranzadi 2006

Intellectual property:

Comentarios a la Ley de la Propiedad IntelectualReal Decreto Legislativo 1/1996, de 12 abril . J. Miguel Rodríguez  et al. Civitas 2007

Labour / employment law:

Leyes del Trabajo.Introducción, Selección, Indices y Notas  Alfredo Montoya Melgar et al. Civitas  6th ed. 2012

Procedural Law:

Introduccíon al derecho procesal   S. Calaza López and others  Tirant lo Blanch  1st ed. 2020


English language works on Spanish law

The demand for English language texts began in earnest after the accession of Spain to the EC in 1986. At first there was very little in English, and inevitably such publications tended to be monographs of the 'doing business with Spain' variety, but then the field began to open up to other subjects. A wide selection of topics has been added since about 2012. 

The following publications are in the library

Alcántara, J.M. Transport law in Spain  Kluwer law international 2012
Alonso Olea, O, Rodriguez-Sanudo, F. & Elorza Guerrero, F. Labour law in Spain 2nd ed. Kluwer law International  2014
Bataller Grau, J. Latorre Chiner, N. & Olavarría Iglesia, J. Insurance law in Spain  Kluwer law International   2014
Bergel Sainz de Baranda, Y. Handbook on Spanish civil patrimonial law 2nd ed. Tecnos  2016
Campins Eritja, M. Environmental law in Spain  2nd ed. Kluwer Law international 2014
Crespo Pérez, J. Sports law in Spain Kluwer Law International 2015
Gambino, S. and others Spanish constitutional system  Eleven International Publishing 2018
Letai, P. Cyber law in Spain  2nd ed. Kluwer Law international 2014 
Martinez-Torrón, J. Religion and  law in Spain Kluwer Law International 2014
Rodríguez de las Heras Ballel, T. Introduction to Spanish private law: facing the social and economic changes Routledge-Cavendish 2010
Ruiz Robledo, A. Constitutional law in Spain 2nd ed. Kluwer Law International 2018
Ruiz Robledo, A. Sub-national constitutional law in Spain Wolters Kluwer 2018

Romanãch, J (trans.) . Civil code of Spain  Baton Rouge, Lawrence Publishing Company 1994
Sánchez Aristi, R. & Moralejo Imbernón, N.  Property and trust law in Spain  3rd ed. Kluwer Law International  2019
Vaquer, A. Contract law in Spain  3rd ed. Kluwer Law International 2018

It is worthwhile browsing the shelves as some general comparative texts include a chapter on Spain. Sections on Spain can be found in the following works, all of which are in the library:

Boeles, P. and others . European migration. 2nd ed. 2014

Bona, M. & Mead, P. Personal injury compensation in Europe: a comparative study. 2003

Dabbah, M. & Lasok, P. 2nd ed. Merger control worldwide. 2012 CUP (e-book)

Harding, A. & Leyland, P. Constitutional courts: a comparative study. 2009

Maitland-Walker, J. ed. Competition laws of Europe. 2nd ed. 2003

Mankabady, M. Joint ventures in Europe. 2008
Mihr, A.  Regime Consolidation and transitional justice; a comparative study of Germany, Spain and Turkey.  2018 CUP (e-book)


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Resource Guides

Cabrero, Olga. Guide to legal research in Spain. Published on the GlobaLex web site 2005. Updated by Vanessa Casado 2014

Eagle - i    An Internet Portal for Law, provides quality web sites which have been evaluated according to a set of agreed criteria. It is currently being developed by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies as a valuable successor to the legal branch of Intute.

Kim-Prieto, Dennis. A brief guide to select databases for Spanish speaking jurisdictions.  Published on the GlobaLex web site 2007 and updated by Gloria Orrego Hoyos in 2015

The Oficina Española de Patentes e Marcas (OEPM) is an official Spanish body which handles patents and trademarks.It hosts other trademark databases and gives access to recent issues of the Boletín Oficial de la Propiedad Industria. One of the databases available is the Archivo Histórico which holds older issues of the Boletín Oficial. It also includes  other historical documents and background information about the projects. The background detail is available in English but the documents are in Spanish only.


Another useful resource is the FLAG Foreign law Guide (Search on Spain to discover which UK research and national libraries hold materials on Spanish law).

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