U.K. legal research

UK Legal Research
How to locate UK law generally
Start with a secondary source
• Best: Halsbury’s Laws of England
– A legal encyclopedia arranged by topical
subject--each topic is subdivided into parts,
sections, subsections, and paragraphs with
appropriate footnote references to cases,
statutes, and statutory instruments
– In print: KD 310 .H34 (stack 1)
– Theoretically on LexisNexis, although not
covered by our subscription
UK Case law research
Top 5 things to know about UK case law
Majority of UK cases are unreported
No official reporter in the UK
Neutral Citation now preferred
No corollary to our KeyNumber/Headnotes
– But you can use a Digest
• No corollary to our KeyCite/Shepard’s
– But you can use JustCite on Justis
How to find UK cases
If you don’t have a citation, use The
• In print only: KD296 .E5
• Works very much like our Digest system
– Use the Index to look up a topic
– Go to that volume/paragraph for that topic
– Read general description and use citations to
primary materials listed therein
This phrase is used by practitioners in
most Commonwealth jurisdictions to
refer to the process of updating a case
or statute
• It would be synonymous with
“Shepardizing” in the US for cases
• Because we codify our statutes and
regulations, we do not have a similar tool
for our legislation, although a somewhat
like using the Federal Register to update
the CFR to the current day
Example #1
Can a football club claim copyright
infringement over a reproduction of a list
of matches compiled by the club?
• Since you have no cite or name, use The
Digest to locate a case on point
• Use the Index to the Digest to locate an
entry on point
• Locate the entry in the main volume and
read the case description, citing to the
primary source (case) if its good
Where to find UK cases
If you do have a citation or know the
names of the parties, try
• Bailii (http://www.bailii.org/)
• Justis (subscription database, access through
our catalog)
– coverage: The Law Reports, Weekly Law Reports,
Times Law Reports
• LexisNexis: UK Cases, Combined Courts
– coverage: All England Law Reports
• Westlaw: UK-RPTS-ALL
– coverage: The Law Reports and other specialized
Sweet and Maxwell reporters
Example #2
Locate [1998] QB 294.
• This is a neutral cite (QB = Queen’s
Bench) so we cannot be sure where it will
be reported, but the best bet is to first start
with Bailii
Since you have a cite, go
to the guided search box
for case law
Enter the cite EXACTLY how
they instruct you to do it—it
should resemble that already
No luck in Bailii, but at least it
was free to check. Next try
(I’ll demo Justis)
To access Justis, just do a
keyword search for it in
FULLPAC and then link into it
through our catalog record
Since you have a cite, you
can search for it – OR –
use the guided search
boxes by clicking “Cases”
above to search by other
“Noter-up” this case by using
JustCite, which are essentially all
these tabbed features— “Subsequent
Cases” would be the equivalent to
the Shepardize button
16 cases have cited our case—but be sure to
check the jurisdiction (note the 2nd and 3rd entri
are not from the UK) and the treatment in the
“How Cited” column before using them
UK Statutory Research
Top 4 things to know about UK statutory
• UK legislation is not codified
• Because it is not codified, you have to
“noter-up” any legislation you find to ensure
• Subsequent amendments may be made by
other Acts or Statutory Instruments
• Acts of Parliament may or may not apply to
the whole of the UK—Scotland and Northern
Ireland can make their own
How to find UK statutes
Use a Secondary Source (i.e.,
Halsbury’s Laws of England) if you do
not know the title of what you’re looking
 Use the index or table of contents (if
one exists) for the statutory database
you are using
UK Statutory Instruments
Secondary legislation issued as orders,
rules, and regulations, promulgated by
the Ministers under authority delegated
to them by Parliament
• Statutory instruments = US regulations
Enacted in order to reduce the length
and complexity of statutes and increase
their flexibility—SIs work WITH statutes,
not separate to them
Where to find UK Statutory material
Statutes and statutory instruments
• Legislation.gov.uk
– http://www.legislation.gov.uk/
• Justis
• Lexis: Statutes and Statutory Instruments
of England and Wales
• Westlaw: UK-ST
Example #3
Locate section 8 of the Local
Government Act 1992 (c.19). What is the
status of this section (i.e. is it in force,
has it been repealed or amended, etc.)?
• Since you want to be sure of the status, why
not try the free Statute Law Database first?
It may involve a few more steps than
Lexis/WL but will be much cheaper!
Always remember, you can browse
if you’re not sure of exact title
Plug in whatever
information you
have—in this
example, we have
all the relevant
information, so
any combination
will work
Jump to the relevant
Authentic PDF
Some amendments/changes
have not yet been incorporated
to this version—you will need
to consult the amending
legislation not yet incorporated
to read the “current” version of
the law
Always check the extent note to see which
jurisdictions the section applies to—i.e., this
section only applies to Scotland
This section was
REPEALED for England
and Wales (E.W.) by a
law (c.27) in 1999
(probably in relation to
Scotland’s devolution)
UK Parliamentary Publications
Similar to US legislative history
 Helps trace the development and
enactment of legislation before
Command Papers
Command Papers are papers of interest
to Parliament on subjects that may be
major policy proposals (White Papers)
and consultation documents (Green
Papers), diplomatic documents such as
treaties, Government responses to Select
Committee reports, reports of major
committees of inquiry or certain
departmental reports or reviews.
• Similar to a US Congressional Committee
Common name for the publication of
Parliamentary Debates—first printed in
1803 by William Hansard, so the name
• “Hansard” = Congressional Record
Most parliamentary systems have a
Hansard, although it may be called
“Official Record of Parliamentary Debate”
• List of Hansards:
– (yes, I did just send you to Wikipedia)
Where to find UK Official Documents
• http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/p
• Coverage since 1988/89 session for
Parliament, 1994/95 for House of Lords
Bills currently before Parliament
• http://services.parliament.uk/bills/
Command Papers
• TSO: http://www.official-documents.gov.uk
• Coverage: full since 2005/06, select papers
for the period 1994-2005
The Northern Ireland Legal System
NI Court System
Court of Appeal
• Court of last resort in NI—appeal further
to Supreme Court of the UK
High Court
• Three divisions: Queen’s Bench, Family
and Chancery
Crown Court
• Serious criminal cases
NI Legislation
• Legislation can be created by both the
NI Parliament or Westminster (UK)
• Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 c.23
– “Northern Ireland” comes before the “Act”,
therefore created by Westminster to apply only
to NI
• Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954
– “Northern Ireland” comes after the “Act”,
therefore made by NI Parliament/Assembly
NI Legislation
Areas in which Westminster has authority
• 1. Excepted matters – these are areas in which
Westminster legislates for the whole of the United Kingdom.
They include foreign policy, defence, taxation and the Armed
Forces and are all listed in the Northern Ireland Act 1998
c.47 Sch.2.
• 2. Reserved matters – these are areas in which
Wesminster may devolve the power to legislate to the NIA.
At the time of writing, negotiations are ongoing as to whether
policing and criminal justice matters should be transferred to
the NIA. The complete list of reserved matters is contained
in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 c.47 Sch.3.
• 3. Transferred matters – these are functions of
Government which are devolved to the NIA and include
education, health, environment and agriculture.
If you want to search on NI
materials, you can start off by
accessing only NI databases by
following this link and then selecting
the relevant database—statutes,
case law, etc.
PDF copies of all NI statutes
from 2007-on are available
on BAILII—note the position
of “Northern Ireland”,
signifying the Act was
promulgated by the NI
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