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United Kingdom Law: UK Law

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying the law and legal systems of the United Kingdom at the University of Oxford, although students and researchers from any field may find it useful.

Use this guide to find out about sources and commentary for the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) including ebooks, ejournals, and databases.

UK Jurisdictions

This guide is mainly concerned with lawa which applies in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Those elements which are United Kingdom law will apply also to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Depending on your research focus you might find the guides below useful.

Main UK legal databases

There are a number of major legal databases that cover UK law.  See below for a list of the main databases or see the Legal databases tab for more information and links to online tutorials.

UK Legal Research books

Below are books on legal research.  For books and resources on the English and Wales legal system see the Legal System tab.

Quick start

The UK hard copy collection in the Bodleian Law Library is mostly situated on the main floor of the library.  Law reports are at Cw UK 100, and journals at Cw UK 300.  UK legal monographs are catalogued using different classmarks which allows for easier browsing, this section starts at K through to KZ before the main run of law reports and journals.  Hard copy legislation can be found on Floor 1.

There is a multi-volume encyclopaedia which covers the law of England and Wales called Halsbury's Laws of England which is a great place to start your research and this can be found at K1 or it is available online on Lexis®Library.  Alternatively you can search SOLO for other resources.

There is no one database that contains all UK legal material but the 2 main databases are Westlaw Edge UK and LexisLibrary OU members can access both using their Oxford Single Sign On details.  For information on these, and for a list of other useful electronic resources (including free resources) then see the database section in the left hand column or look at the specific tab above for specific types of material.

What is the UK?

The United Kingdom was established by the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801 and defined in 1922 with the division of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.  The UK consists of 3 legal jurisdictions made up of 4 countries: (a) England and Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) Northern Ireland each having there own court system and legal profession. Since 1997 legislative decision making for some areas of government has been devolved to the separate jurisdictions, however there are still certain areas which are governed centrally through the main UK Parliament.

This guide is mainly concerned with the sources for the jurisdiction of England and Wales, although some of the sources will apply equally to both Scotland and Northern Ireland.  

The UK became a signatory to European Convention of Human Rights on 04/11/1950 with Ratification on 08/03/1951. (The Convention Entered  into Force on 03/09/1953).

The UK was a member of the European Union from 1973 to 2020.


Online portals for UK law