This subject guide will help navigate you to some key resources to help find legal information such as cases, legislation, journal articles and reference sources. The law department recommends OSCOLA as the main referencing system for law students. The library has created a referencing page which includes all of the referencing systems used across the university including OSCOLA.

If you need any further help, please contact your librarian for support.  

Case law & legislaton

Case law and legislation - UK

Legislation (statute) and case law are the two primary sources of Scots law. There are many free sources of case reports and legislation available but since the law is subject to change and legal decisions can be overturned, you must be careful that you are using the most up to date information. The two key legal databases for finding case law are Westlaw UK and LexisLibrary. These are specialist databases which are updated daily to ensure that you are using the current law. Log in with your domain username and password.

  • Westlaw has current case law and legislation. For help using the database, you may want to try a Westlaw tutorial
  • Use LexisLibrary for case law and legislation. See LexisLibrary training to get the most out of the database
  • 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
  • The Legislation UK website contains original (as enacted) and amended legislation for the UK. The site contains most types of UK legislation, including UK Public General Acts, Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Acts of the National Assembly for Wales and Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly. There are tabs which link to explanatory notes and other resources relating to the legislation, including links and references to Hansard

Case law and legislation - Europe

  • EUR-lex provides free access to European Union law and other public documents, including case law from 1954
  • HUDOC provides free online access to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers
  • CURIA is a searchable database of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union from 1954 to present

Case law and legislation - rest of the world

  • Eagle-I is a portal to high quality legal information on the web developed and maintained by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Coverage includes UK, European, Foreign, Comparative and International law
  • FLAG Foreign Law Guide  is a searchable database of the print holdings of foreign, international and comparative law in specialist UK law libraries. The database contains descriptions, locations, contacts and access information
  • FLARE Index to Treaties  is a searchable index of over 2000 multilateral treaties concluded between 1353 to present. The database provides information on where the full text of the treaty can be obtained in print, and a link to the electronic version 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 UKLexisLibrary and Hein Online

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 on the Jisc Historic Texts database. Each book has a unique identity number making it easy to quickly locate the full text. Log in to Jisc Historic Texts and search by the code shown in square brackets beside each title. 

Civil law

  • Sir Thomas Craig, Jus Feudale, 1655 (in Latin) [eebo-99898046e]
  • James Dalrymple (Viscount Stair), The Institutions of the Laws of Scotland, 1693 [eebo-ocm28003369e]
  • Andrew McDouall (Lord Bankton), An Institute of the Laws of Scotland, Vol. I, 1751 [ecco-0527100101]
  • Andrew McDouall (Lord Bankton), An Institute of the Laws of Scotland, Vol. II , 1752 [ecco-0527200102]
  • Andrew McDouall (Lord Bankton), An Institute of the Laws of Scotland, Vol. III, 1753 [ecco-0527300103]
  • John Erskine, An Institute of the Law of Scotland, Vol. I, 1773 [ecco-0996500201]
  • John Erskine, An Institute of the Law of Scotland, Vol. II, 1773 [ecco-0996500202]

Criminal law

  • Sir George MacKenzie, The Laws and Customes of Scotland in Matters Criminal, 1678 [eebo-ocm12561274e]
  • Sir George MacKenzie, The Laws and Customes of Scotland in Matters Criminal, 2nd edition, 1699 [eebo-99829404e]
  • David Hume, Commentaries on the Law of Scotland Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes, Vol. I, 1797 [ecco-1203900201]
  • David Hume, Commentaries on the Law of Scotland Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes, Vol. II, 1797 [ecco-1203900202]

Journal articles

  • You can use the two main legal databases Westlaw or LexisLibrary to find journal articles. This is particularly useful if you want to read journal articles on a specific case or piece of legislation since the databases link this information
  • A good general starting point if you are looking for legal journal articles on a specific subject is to use the Library's Discover service. Discover is a fast, broad search across the majority of the library's full text resources
  • HeinOnline is an archive of over 1600 law and law-related journals. Coverage starts from the first issue to recent publications. Generally publications are one to two years behind the current volume
  • ProQuest Central is a large multidisciplinary database covering a huge range of subjects including law, crime, justice and psychology. As well as journal articles, the database has book reviews, conference papers, newspaper articles, radio broadcast transcripts and dissertations. It has the flexibility to allow you to do focused searches across a mass of information so that you can find relevant, quality information quickly

Legal abbreviations

Legal language is very precise and can be difficult to comprehend when you first encounter it. Legal writing uses a lot of Latin terminology, and case reports and journals are usually referred to by standard abbreviations. The sources listed below may help you to understand these.

Legal abbreviations

Legal writing uses abbreviations to cite case reports and journals. There are a number of sources for these in print and online. 

The Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is a free online resource which allows you to search for the abbreviation or the full title of English language legal publications including those covering international and comparative law.

In print, the Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia has lists of abbreviations at the beginning of each volume. The Current Law series: the Monthly Digest, Yearbook and the Case Citators all have lists of standard legal abbreviations.

Legal terms

Legal blogs and newsfeeds

Areas of law

Employment law


  • Emplaw is a comprehensive portal for UK employment law resources, including news on the latest key cases and legislation and a great guide to the current state of employment law in the UK with key facts and figures
  • International Labour Organisation 
  • Federation of European Employers provides news and information on European Union employment legislation


  • Employment Law Update is maintained by Philip Henson, chief employment law blogger for the Solicitors Journal

Environmental law

Human rights law


  • Universal Human Rights Index is a research tool brought to you by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Index provides easy access to country-specific human rights information emanating from international human rights mechanisms in the United Nations system
  • UK Human Rights Law Reports (HRLR) 2000- and European Human Rights Reports (EHRR) 1978- are on Westlaw UK
  • European Court of Human Rights includes documents, reports and case law


Quality websites:        


 International trade law