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.

Finding case law and legislation

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.

Legislation UK contains as enacted (non-consolidated) UK legislation with full coverage from 1988. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are included. For consolidated legislation use Westlaw.

  • 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 level 4 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 on level 3 at 340.09411 S17.
  • Scottish Law Review: Sheriff Court Reports 1885-1963 are in print on 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 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.
Finding journals

Use Discover to search for journal articles on a topic or the search for a journal by title. Watch a short video Find a Journal by Title.

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.

Finding books

To find books and ebooks use Discover. Watch a short video to help improve your search.

Where are my books in the Library?

You can find most law books on level 4 of the Library, starting at shelf number 340. For help ask a member of staff on the floor or watch Find a book in the Library.

Many of our books are online, watch Find and use ebooks to learn more. Ebook collections: Brill is good for human rights and humanitarian law or international law.

Institutional writers

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 Feudale and Commentaries on the Law of Scotland Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes are held in the GCU Archives and special collections.

Civil law
  • 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

Criminal law
  • 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.