Looking for legal information on a country outside the U.S.?  For starters, it's good to remember that types of legal systems vary widely. Civil law countries lean on codes, while common law ones prioritize judicial decisions and precedents along with legislation. There are also legal systems that are religious based, custom based, or that incorporate a mix of all of the above. 

 Juriglobe, from the University of Ottowa, is quick and effective go-to for identifying the legal system at play in your country of interest.

Of immediate help is the color-coded global map for an at-glance- overview of legal systems. As you will see, civil law reigns in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and parts of Africa. Meanwhile, common law, a legacy of the British Empire, is the foundation of legal systems in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. 

On the left hand side of the page, you can find links to regional maps. You can also simply look up the legal system of any country in the world, either through an alphabetical index of nations, or by type of legal system (e.g. civil law, common law, mixed, etc.) 

Further Research

If your research requires a more in-depth exploration, check out the Primer on civil law systems from the Federal Judicial Center, especially useful for comparing civil and common law. For a more thorough exploration of the individual legal systems of most nations, including legal sources and how to access them, Brill’s Foreign Law Guide is invaluable. And for any further queries on foreign and international legal research, reach out to Sunil Rao,  Foreign and International Law Librarian.

Submitted by Sunil Rao, on January 24, 2024

This article appears in the categories: Law Library