Key resources for law

Halsbury's Laws of England


There are many different resources available to help you with your wider reading and research.

Below you’ll find some of the essential resources to explore for Law.

Types of sources

You will need to use a variety of primary and secondary information sources when studying Law:

Law reports
Published volumes of the decisions of the courts. Law reports are available through online subscription databases such as LexisLibrary and WestLaw UK, which can be accessed through Discover A-to-Z.

Statutes (Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments)
Theses are also available through online databases such as LexisLibrary and WestLaw UK as well as sites such as

Academic journals and periodicals
You can search for journal articles in Discover, or search for the journal title using Discover A-to-Z. You will be able to access the full-text of many journal articles available through Discover.

Textbooks (teaching texts) and monographs (specialist works) are available in the Library. Some are available as e-books which you can read both on and off campus. Check the library catalogue for availability.

Bibliographic works and encyclopaedia
These are reference works which are useful for definitions. They include Halsbury’s Laws of England which is available both online through LexisLibrary and in print in the library.

You can access the key electronic resources for Law from Discover using Databases A-Z.

Remember to log in to databases with your University user ID and password.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations 

This database allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law.


HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library is comprehensive, beginning with the first issue ever published of more than 1,800 law and law-related periodicals. Includes more than 26 million pages of articles, comments, notes, book reviews, cases, decisions, and legislation.

Use HeinOnline English Reports to access more than 100,000 of the most important early English cases that laid the foundation for the laws of nations under the British Empire and influenced the development of laws across many lands.


JustisOne is a multi-source legal search engine and citator. It is provider-neutral and links to content from a range of publishers and includes links to full-text resources in leading online legal resources including  BAILIILexisLibraryWestlaw, and more.


LexisLibrary includes annotated legislation, cases, forms, precedents and commentary. It includes Halsbury’s Laws, ICLR Law Reports, UK Acts, Statutory Instruments, the Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents, definitions of legal terms, over 80 leading journals, and a database of full-text UK regional, national and broadsheet newspapers.

Westlaw UK

Databases of case law, legislation, news, journals, commentary, Current Awareness alerts and EU legal materials.

It’s best to use Discover to find academic journal articles because it will search many of our databases at once, but if you wish to visit a specific journal you can do this by searching using the Publications tab.

Click here for quick guides to using Discover.

In addition to legal databases such as LexisLibrary and Westlaw UK there are other useful resources which are freely available on the web:


On BAILII you can find British and Irish case law and legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations 

This database allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications, from the British Isles, the Commonwealth and the United States, including those covering international and comparative law.


CommonLII provides free access to Commonwealth and Common Law, including 1430 databases from 60 Commonwealth and common law jurisdictions.


EUR-Lex provides free access, in the 24 official EU languages, to European Union law.  This database covers many types of texts produced mostly by the institutions of the European Union, but also by Member States, EFTA, etc.

European Court of Human Rights

Find out more about the ECHR, and access records of its decisions.

FLAG (Foreign Law Guide)

The FLAG database gives legal researchers details about holdings of foreign, international and comparative law in the UK’s academic, national and specialist law libraries – find out where to find foreign law in UK libraries.


Use this website for links to government services and information.

Hansard (the Official Report)

An edited, verbatim report of proceedings of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

HM Courts & Tribunal Service

HM Courts & Tribunals Service is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales. This website includes daily court lists and  information about Court and Tribunal fees.

The Intellectual Property Office

The IPO is the official government body responsible for granting Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the United Kingdom.  Find information on all types of IP, including patents, trade marks, designs, and copyright.


The Justice website contains resources for legal professionals, including: civil, family and criminal procedure rules, daily court lists, prison finder, prison and probation instructions, youth justice toolkits and practice materials.

The Law Commission

The Law Commission is the statutory independent body created by the Law Commissions Act 1965 to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where it is needed. The aim of the Commission is to ensure that the law is fair, modern, simple, and effective.

The Law Society

The Law Society represents solicitors in England and Wales.  The Law Society helps, protects and promotes solicitors by negotiating with and lobbying the profession’s regulators, government and others; and offering training and advice.

This website is managed by The National Archives on behalf of HM Government and carries most types of UK Legislation. It includes UK Acts from 1267-present, Statutory Instruments, local acts, church measures.

UK Parliament

The UK Parliament website includes links to Hansard, progress of current and draft bills before Parliament, parliamentary publications and archives.

UK Public General Acts

All Public General Acts in full-text from 1988 onwards, and PDF where available for 1837-1987.  Explanatory notes are published alongside Acts since 1999.

UK Statutory Instruments

Full-text of all Statutory Instruments since 1987.


The World Legal Information Institute provides free, independent and non-profit access to worldwide law, including 1,815 databases from 123 jurisdictions.

LexisLibrary contains a news database of full-text UK regional, national and broadsheet newspapers.  Coverage goes back as far as January 1982 to the present day for some titles, although this varies by publication.

EThOS is the UK’s national thesis service with approximately 400,000 records relating to theses awarded by over 120 institutions. Around 160,000 of these also provide access to the full text.

Institutional Repository (SURE)

SUnderland REpository (SURE) is a collection of the research output produced at the University of Sunderland.  It contains book chapters, journal articles, reports, artworks, PhD and MPhil theses, conference papers and many other items.

When preparing a piece of work it is important that you cite any sources that you refer to. It is essential that you provide detailed, accurate information about the sources you have used because it:

  • demonstrates the range of research and reading that you have done (and enables you to make use of your own citations in further research)
  • gives authority to the statements you include in your written work
  • allows readers of your work to track down the original sources you have used
  • ensures that you are not accused of plagiarism for presenting the ideas of other people as your own

There are various styles of citation but although these vary in style the same principle applies: you are giving the reader all the information they need in order to trace your source item.

OSCOLA referencing

The Law Department uses the OSCOLA [Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities] system, a specialist referencing system for Law.

You can find both the full OSCOLA guide, and the Quick Start Guide on the OSCOLA website.

Once you are familiar with the concepts and examples in the full guide, you will find the Quick Start guide a useful quick-reference document.

Information Services staff at Cardiff University have produced a helpful online tutorial on Citing the Law using OSCOLA.

Cite Them Right is a guide to help you get started with the principles of citing and referencing.