Skip to Main Content

Researching South African Law Library Guide: Finding legislation

This guide is intended to assist you in researching South African law.

Starting point: Act details

An Act is made up of a title, number and year. To find an Act it helps if you have all three, but it is possible to find an Act using only the title or only the number and year.

Act Name Act Number of Act Year
National Water Act 36 of 1998

The best three databases to use for finding legislation are Sabinet (Legal), LexisNexis and Juta

Using the LexisNexis legislation search

LexisNexis (South Africa) contains national, provincial and local legislation from South Africa.

Locate the 'Legislation' search under the big search bar. A pop up will appear on the screen.

Type in your Act's name in the 'Act Name' box and click 'search'. If you have the number, insert it into the Act number box in the format number and year eg. '36 of 1998'.

In the results list locate the Act you want and click on the title to open it - make sure that under 'Document type', it says 'Principal Act'.

Using the Juta legislation search

Juta contains national legislation from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It also contains provincial legislation of South Africa as well as the regulations to both national and provincial legislation of South Africa.

Locate the Acts search on the dropdown on the top left of the screen. Use either the Act name OR the Act number and year to search for the Act you want in the relevant boxes.

To open the Act, click on the title - all Acts are written in capital letters.


Using Netlaw on Sabinet to find legislation

Sabinet Legal has access to national, provincial and local legislation of South Africa. It also contains a Bill tracker and policy documents relating to legal issues.

When selecting Sabinet from the database list choose Sabinet Legal. Select South African Legislation (Netlaw) either on the menu dropdown under 'Search' or on the right of the main screen's list.

The Netlaw search allows you to search for Acts either by keyword, title and/or number - for instance: the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008

The main search bars are to search by keywords (for example: child AND justice).

Underneath the main search bar is a search box for the Act title (for example: Child Justice Act)

Below the Act title box is the Act number box (for example: 75 2008). In Sabinet, unlike LexisNexis, you leave the word 'of' out.

Once you have filled in the right boxes, click search. In the search results list, click on the title of the Act you want. A new page will open up containing details about your Act, and then displaying the Act further down the page. On the top right of the page there are options to print the Act - which will allow you to either print it as a PDF to save or print it directly.