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Foreign and International Law Library Guide: Westlaw

This guide will enable you to research foreign law using specialised databases such as Westlaw and Heinonline

Using Westlaw

Westlaw Next is a database that contains many International Materials as well as US Materials. Westlaw Next is a new platform, previously being Westlaw International.

To access Westlaw Next, you will need to go through the Westlaw UK portal by selecting Westlaw from the databases list. Once in the Westlaw UK Portal, click on Services and then International Materials. You will automatically be logged onto Westlaw Next then.

You can search using the search box on the main page for specific databases, topics, journals or specific articles.

Navigating the US Materials tab

To get to the US Materials, simply click on the 'Westlaw Next' logo. A new interface will open up. Here you can browse the different areas within Westlaw by type, jurisdiction, practice area or sub-database.

All Content sets out the US Content by type and then on the left pane the other database (one of which is the International Materials)
Federal Materials contains all Federal Materials by source (legislature and courts)
State Materials sets out all US State materials by State
Practice Areas arranges the materials in Westlaw by practice area (eg. commercial law)
Tools only sets out a range of Westlaw products.

Viewing your results and refining

Once you have conducted your search - the results list will show.

You can refine your results by document type on the left of the page where it sets out the different documents:


Using citations to find a specific item

Westlaw allows you to do a citation search to direct you to the specific item you are looking for in the search box.

An example of the citation format is as follows:

Case in the All England Law Reports - [1996] 4 All E.R. 385

An article in the Stanford Law Review - 48 stan l rev 1293

Simply type in your citation and click search and Westlaw will bring up the document.

Constructing your search query - terms and connectors

Westlaw has two tabs in its search box - either 'Terms and Connectors' or 'Natural language'.

'Natural language' allows you to simply type in the words and it attempts to find them in documents (similar to a Google search)

'Terms and Connectors' are more effective and allow you more control over the search, returning less irrelevant results and more relevant results.

A few of the terms and connectors that you can use are as follows (demonstrated with the search query of the effectiveness of civil justice):

AND (or &) - it looks for documents that contain ALL your terms - eg. civil justice AND effectiveness
OR - it looks for documents that contain either term - eg. civil justice OR effectiveness
Phrase (use " ") - looks for the phrase exactly as it appears - eg. "civil justice"

Proximity searches - these are searches that allow you to search for words within a certain amount of distance from each other
/p - searches within the same paragraph for both your terms - eg. effectiveness /p "civil justice"
/s - searches within the same sentence for both your terms - eg. effectiveness /s "civil justice"
/n - searches within a number of terms of each other (n=a number = - eg. effectiveness / 5 "civil justice" (within 5 terms of each other)

Westlaw Database Identifiers

Westlaw International used database identifiers in order to find its specific databases so you could search in it. Westlaw Next now automatically searches across all databases, but you can still use database identifiers to call up specific databases if you want. We do have the following database identifiers already found for you. When using them type in only the code in red in the main search box.

Constitutional Law of South Africa - CLOSA
Black's Law Dictionary - BLACKS
Palmer's Company Law - UKCB-PALMERS

World Journals - WORLD-JLR
Legal Journals Index - LJI
UK Journals and Law Reviews - UK-JLR
Canadian Journals - TP-CANADA
US Journals - JLR

United Kingdom Materials
UK Case Law Locator - UK-CASELOC
UK Statutes (currently in force) - UK-ST
UK Journals and Law Reviews - UK-JLR

Australian Materials
Australian cases - AU-ALLCASES

Canadian materials
Canadian Cases, Statutes and Commentary - CANPRIME-PLUS
Canadian Cases - CAN-ALLCASES
Canadian Legislation - CANST-ALL
Canadian Journals - TP-CANADA

European Union materials
Cases from EU Courts and Courts of Member States - EU-RPTS-ALL
EU Legislation, Treaties, Cases and other documents - EU-ALL

United States materials
Federal and State Cases since 1658 - ALLCASES
Supreme Court cases since 1790 - SCT
US Code - USC
US Journals - JLR

International materials
International Legal Materials - ILM
All treaties - CMB-TREATIES

Accessing databases quickly using identifiers

If you know a database identifier (used in Westlaw International and some are set out on this page), you can still access this database  by simply typing the identifier (eg. ALLCASES) in the search box.