Lady Justice on top of the Old Bailey

Legal resources

Explore case law and legislation resources

Navigating legal resources and research can be challenging. This page offers guidance on case law and legislation resources.

UK law

The two main online resources for those studying English and UK law are:

These provide access to law reports, legislation, journal articles and more.

Case law

Legal citations and abbreviations

Law reports are referred to using standardised citations (such as: Pepper v Hart [1993] A.C. 593) which provide the party names, Pepper and Hart; the year in which the report was published, 1993; the law report series abbreviation, AC and page number, 593.

To locate where a specific case has been 'reported', identify the abbreviation via the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

Law Reports

In English law (England and Wales), there has been one official series of law reports since 1865, known as The Law Reports. This series comprises separate sequences for each court division - Appeal Cases (AC), Chancery (Ch.), King's Bench (KB) and Family (Fam.). Other report series include the All England Law Reports, and specialist series such as the Criminal Appeal Reports.
To find UK case law:

  • Use Westlaw UK or Lexis + UK
  • Find printed versions at KD275 - KD279 Main Collection, 1st floor. 
  • vLex Justis - use as a starting point to search case law and legal citations with judicial histories and precedent maps. Each citation provides a drop-down list of where to locate the full text.
  • British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) - publishes full text of judgments (the official transcript) from the High Courts of the UK from 1997 onwards.
  • Find case law - launched by The National Archives in spring 2022, this site contains decisions from the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and Upper Tribunals.
  • Croner i-Tax and Accounting - UK Tax Cases.

Pre-1865 law reports

Prior to 1865, cases were reported by individuals and these became known as the Nominate Reports.

English Reports, 1235 -1865 (ER), KD270 E51, first floor is a reprint of the Nominate Reports. They are not usually cited as 'English Reports' but by their original citation e.g. (1675) 1 Rolle 360.

All England Law Reports Reprint 1558-1936, KD288.A6 A42 includes important older cases.

HeinOnline World Trials Library contains a selection of English trials relating to offences against the State. A wide variety of cases is covered, predominantly high treason but also bigamy, sedition, murder, riot, piracy, witchcraft and corruption.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674 - 1913 is a fully searchable service containing over 190,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

UK legislation


Consider what you need - the original Act or an updated and amended version. Most print materials will not reflect amendments except for Halsbury's Statutes.

Current status of legislation

  • Use Lexis + UK or Westlaw UK for the latest amendments to legislation.
  • Halsbury's Statutes KD135.H3 G78, 1st floor Main Collection. This series is arranged by subject and contains acts currently in force and as amended. Acts no longer in force are omitted. Acts (or their equivalent) applying only to Scotland or Northern Ireland are not included.

Legislation as originally enacted

  • vLex Justis contains the full text of all Acts of Parliament in England, Wales and Scotland as enacted, from 1235 to the present day and includes repealed legislation. Links to amended and amending legislation allow you to trace the development of the law.
  • Acts of the UK Parliament and Explanatory Notes or BAILII The full text of UK Public General Acts from 1988 as originally enacted is available from the National Archives with selected earlier acts back to 1837.
  • Public General Acts, KD125 U51, 1st floor Main Collection. The official series of statutes are published by the Stationery Office, in annual volumes in number order (each Act is assigned a 'chapter' number). These are the Acts in their original form, and not amended. This series is largely of historical interest, but is regarded as the official and definitive text of an act. We have an extensive collection back to the early 19th century.
  • Current Law Statutes Annotated KD135.C8 C97, 1st floor Main Collection (1965-2014). This series reproduces the original Act without amendments, repeals, etc. It is useful to trace the background to and parliamentary history of an Act, as references to white papers, Standing Committee reports, Hansard debates, etc. are included in footnotes. This publication is arranged chronologically.

Statutory instruments

Statutory instruments (SIs) are largely made by government ministers and agencies under powers granted to them by Parliament under specific Acts. They deal with administrative matters. Each SI is assigned a running number with the numbering starting afresh each year. For example: 1996/1245 refers to SI 1245 of 1996.

  • Use Westlaw UK or Lexis + UK for SIs still in force.
  • vLEX Justis contains legislation published in Statutory Rules & Orders and Statutory Instruments Revised to December 31, 1948, which includes regulations dating back as far as 1671. The archive contains repealed legislation.
  • UK Statutory instruments and explanatory notes from 1987 onwards provided by the National Archives (as with Acts these are not revised).
  • Halsbury's Statutory Instruments, KD173.H3 G78, 1st floor Main Collection. It covers SIs currently, or shortly to be, in force. When full-text is not available, go to the annual volumes at KD166 U51, 1st floor Main Collection.
  • Statutory Instruments KD166 U51, 1st floor Main Collection. We have all SIs published between 1907-2014.

Other jurisdictions

EU law

EUR-Lex - the official portal to legal and judicial materials of the EU is updated daily. Since 2004, the contents of Celex has been included. Included are the Treaties, regulations, directives and decisions of the European Union.

Lexis + UK - select Cases, then EU Cases from the Sources drop down list.

Westlaw UK - select EU

International law

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies provides extensive worldwide law reports in print and online. Available to all LSE staff and postgraduate students.

National jurisdictions

United States state & federal law

  • Go to Lexis + UK, click on the International heading below the search box, and then select United States of America.
  • From within Westlaw UK select Westlaw International. Alternatively, go straight to Westlaw International.

The US Supreme Court Reports are held in the library, and can be found at KF101 C33.

Commonwealth jurisdictions

Lexis + UK provides substantial coverage of Australia, Canada and New Zealand and selected coverage for Hong Kong and Malaysia. To access within Lexis, click on the International heading below the search box, and select one of the jurisdictions.

Westlaw International has coverage of Australia (Case Law) and Canada (Legislation and Case law).

We have law reports for selected non-UK jurisdictions in print, e.g. South African Law Reports (1947-2020). Use Library Search to locate both print and online law reports.

European jurisdictions

France - the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies has Lexis360 online, a comprehensive collection of databases pertaining to the law of France.

Germany - the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies provides access to Beck Online, the comprehensive database for German law.

Official publications

Government documents

Since our foundation, we have collected material published by governments on a global basis. Our collection is strongest in publications published by the British government and the United States Federal government. The key online resources for these materials are:

Intergovernmental organisations

Intergovernmental organisations documents

We have an extensive collection of United Nations publications, and also hold a large collection of EU print material due to our former status as a European Documentation Centre.

For documents relating to the above collections you will need to use specialist resources such as Europa and AccessUN.There is a large collection of materials published by IGOs held in the Library.

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) also holds extensive worldwide primary materials in print. LSE staff and postgraduates have full access to the IALS.


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