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Law: Commonwealth Law

This guide is a list of sources for legal research.

Introduction to Commonwealth Law sources

A reasonable selection of legal materials from Commonwealth countries is held. They are arranged in a similar way to the rest of the law stock.

Law reports and statutory materials from Commonwealth countries are shelved together under the individual countries or areas, for example 'Law Reports: Australia', on level 3 of the Hartley Library. Periodicals are interfiled with those from other jurisdictions in per K. Books at KP-KS (e.g. KR for Australia and New Zealand).

However, there is very much more available via our various online sources.  In particular, Westlaw and Lexis Library offer an abundance of primary and secondary legal materials via their 'international' sections. 

See our links and guidance elsewhere on these pages for more detail.  If you still cannot find what you need, please ask for help.

Finding the Commonwealth materials on Westlaw

Westlaw – accessing the Commonwealth content using the new international interface. (Note that the old interface will be withdrawn on or before 18/12/15.)

1.    Open Westlaw from library web pages.

2.    Click on ‘Services’ (small link toward the top-right).

3.    Click on 'International Materials'.

4.    You will see a list of Jurisdictions.

5.    You can then choose individual countries (e.g. Australia), but note that some, including New Zealand and South Africa, are listed under 'Other International Jurisdictions'.

6.    You can search either from the main simple search box at the top, or first choose your source (e.g. Australia/All Australia Cases/Queensland).

Finding the Commonwealth materials on Lexis Library

1.  If you know which source you need, e.g. the New Zealand Family Law Reports, enter the title of the publication into the ‘Find a Source’ box.

2.  If you want to know everything which is available for either the Commonwealth as a whole or for individual jurisdictions, click on the ‘Sources’ tab, then on the ‘Browse Sources’ tab.

3.  Choose Commonwealth, or an individual jurisdiction, from the drop-down list.

4. You’ll see a list of categories, e.g. Cases, Legislation and Legal Journals.

5.  If you look at these categories, you’ll note ‘single sources’ e.g. Victorian Reports and ‘group sources’ such as 'Australian Commonwealth, State & Territory Case Law'.     

Free online sources for Commonwealth Law

There are many places to find free law and there will be times when such places are easier to use than the subscription services!  Please do be aware, however, that the subscription sources will have more of a commitment to keeping up to date, for example by showing case histories and subsequent developments.

If in doubt, start your search with WorldLII, which lists and describes free sources only after evaluating them.

Our online subscription sources for Commonwealth Law

This short list highlights the services of most value to those seeking information on Commonwealth law. 

Please note, especially when using Westlaw, that the look and functionality when using the international materials will differ from the UK interfaces.  See the boxes elsewhere on this page which offer some tips on accessing and using Westlaw and Lexis to find Commonwealth materials.