Introductory Resources
International Law Resources
Comparative Law Resources
Foreign Law Resources
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Foreign, Comparative and International Legal Research  

This LibGuide will provide the researcher with background information on Foreign, Comparative and International legal research as well as guidance when choosing resources and formulating searches for Foreign, Comparative and International legal materials.
Last Updated: Jan 4, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Introduction Print Page


Welcome to this Coastal Library LibGuide.  Please look at all the pages and subpages before you decide you may still need reference help.  The brief descriptions and resources supplied here are just a scratch on the surface of all the possible research tools available to you.  However, they are some of the best and will get you on your way to a basic understanding of foreign, comparative, and international legal research and its resources.  International Legal Research in a Nutshell was used to create this LibGuide.


FCIL Research

In today's legal environment the world is becoming a very small place.  Knowledge of the legal information resources available for legal research in International, Comparative and Foreign law is becoming a valuable skill for even those attorneys who do not specialize in these areas.  This guide will introduce the user to the basic structure of international, foreign and comparative legal systems, the legal information resources availabe for those systems, and basic skills required for effective searching in those resources.


International Law

International Law can be divided into two categories: Public International Law and Private International Law.  Public International Law governs the relationships between national governments, between intergovernmental organizations, and between national governments and intergovernmental organizations. Topics include human rights, international trade, international environmental issues, and issues of intellectual property.  Most of these topics will revolve around treaties as the primary body of law but will also include the work of both intergovernmental and nongovernmental bodies.  Private International Law or Conflict of Laws governs the choice of law to apply when there are conflicts in the domestic law of different parties that relate to transactions between individual parties.  Private International Law deals with such things as contracts, marriage, divorce, jurisdiction, recognition of judgments, child adoption and many others.


Comparative Law

Comparative Law is not a body of law itself.  Comparative Law is the study of the similarities and differences of the laws of two or more nations or between two or more legal systems.


Foreign Law

Foreign Law is the law of a sovereign nation.  Foreign law defines the roles of governments with relation to the people they govern and controls the relationships between people.  Foreign Law does not have effect outside the boundaries of the nation.  Constitutions, statutes, regulations and court decisions are the primary sources of foreign law in common law nations.  In civil law nations, court decisions are secondary sources.  There are currently five legal systems in the world today, common law, civil law, customary law, religious law, and mixed legal systems.


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  • Go to the Reference Desk during staffed hours
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Color Coding

Each of the pages has a sub-page using a color scheme attached to the different categories of resources indicated below:




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