If you are studying law as your main subject then this guide is for you. For students studying law as part of another degree, for example business, human resource management or construction, use our guide for non-law students.
Legislation (statute) and case law are the two primary sources of Scots law. The most reliable sources of UK legislation and case law are Westlaw UK and LexisLibrary. These are specialist databases used by both law students and legal professionals and are updated daily.
The BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) web site has British and Irish case law and legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material. It is a free, open access website.
- EUR-lex: searchable database of European Union law and other public documents, including case law from 1954.
- HUDOC: searchable database of case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.
- CURIA: find case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union from 1954 to present.
Rest of the world
The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies maintains three databases:
- Eagle-I: portal to high quality online legal information. Covers UK, European, foreign, comparative and international law.
- FLAG Foreign Law Guide:use this database to find print holdings of foreign, international and comparative law in specialist UK law libraries.
- FLARE: use this index to find multilateral treaties concluded between 1353 to present. A link to the electronic version is provided where available.
World Legal Information Institute (WorldLii): provides links to case law, legislation and treaties for over 20 countries and 48 jurisdictions.
Finding older case law
- Scottish Session Cases 1821-1898 are available online via Westlaw UK from 1898 onwards. If you want to read an earlier case, the library has the full set of Session Cases in print from 1821 onwards on the third floor of the library open shelves at 340.09411 S20. The volumes are arranged by year.
- Scottish Law Reporter 1865-1924 has cases from House of Lords, Court of Session, Court of Justiciary and Court of Teinds. Find it in print in level 3 compact shelving at 340.09411 S17.
- Scottish Law Review: Sheriff Court Reports 1885-1963 are in print in level 3 compact shelving at 340.09411 S18.
- Scottish Jurist 1829-1873 has cases from House of Lords, Court of Session, Court of Justiciary and Court of Teinds. In print on level 3 in compact shelving at 348.41102205 S15.
- Morison's Dictionary of Decisions 1540-1808 is 22 volumes of Scottish cases. The cases are in 19 volumes with three additional volumes of case digests and supplementary material.
- English Reports 1220-1867 has over 100, 000 English cases from 1220-1867 online in Westlaw UK, LexisLibrary and Hein Online.
Databases for journal articles
- Westlaw a mixture of full text and abstracts. Includes the Legal Journals Index. Only place online where you will find Scots Law Times.
- LexisLibrary default journal search is full text. You can also search the Journal Index Plus which includes full text and abstract only. Unique titles include Tax Journal and The New Law Journal.
- HeinOnline has extensive journal archives. Though predominately American, other jurisdictions are also included.
There is some overlap between the databases but every database also has unique content. Some databases provide help guides - these are available within the Discover record for that database. If you need further support, contact your librarian.
To find books and ebooks use Discover. Watch a short video to help improve your search. [link to top search tips]
Where are my books in the Library?
Most law books can be found on level 3 of the Library, starting at shelf number 340.
The works of early writers known as the Institutional Writers, although not used frequently in modern law, still have resonance and are important in the history and development of Scots law. These are a group of works by writers in the 17th and 18th centuries which form a body of work of considerable influence on case law.
Below are some of the most important works by the Institutional Writers. You can find them on Discover by searching for the title. Note Jus Federale and Commentaries on the Law of Scotland Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes are held in the GCU Archives and special collections.
- Sir Thomas Craig, Jus Feudale, 1655 (in Latin)
- James Dalrymple (Viscount Stair), The Institutions of the Laws of Scotland, 1693
- Andrew McDouall (Lord Bankton), An Institute of the Laws of Scotland, Vol. I, 1751, Vol. II , 1752 and Vol. III, 1753.
- John Erskine, An Institute of the Law of Scotland, Vol. I-II, 1773
- Sir George MacKenzie, The Laws and Customes of Scotland in Matters Criminal, 1678 and 2nd edition, 1699
- David Hume, Commentaries on the Law of Scotland Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes, Vol. I-II, 1797
Websites can offer a range of information, for example blogs run by practising solicitors, which may be difficult to find elsewhere.
There are lots of useful websites freely available for example blogs run by practicing solicitors like Employment Law Update; government websites like DEFRA and campaign groups like Amnesty International.
With such a wide variety available you need to ensure that the sites you are using are trustworthy. We provide guidance on evaluating websites.