In today’s globalized market, international legal practitioners represent a wide array of clients spanning borders, cultures, and languages. Whether your client is a foreign party involved in transactions or litigation in the US or a domestic entity engaged in business abroad, access to the relevant jurisdiction’s laws, international treaties, and government databases is necessary to safeguard your client’s best interest. Thankfully, lawyers now have a number of reference databases online to help navigate international legal research, and we hope you find these resources helpful when undertaking these initiatives for your clients in the future.
The United Nations Treaty Collection is a definitive source for all information related to various multilateral agreements promulgated since by the UN Secretariat since 1946. The collection includes dates of accession and ratification for various jurisdictions for over 560 treaties covering a wide range of subject matters including Human Rights, the Environment, the Law of the Sea, Telecommunications, International Trade, and Commercial Transactions. The actual text of the agreements are available in all 6 of the official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, French, Chinese, Russian, English, and Spanish) and includes the official copy of the treaties along with all relevant bibliographical information.
The Eur-Lex portal is another robust database for attorneys involved in any work in which European Union legislation is implicated. The Eur-Lex portal provides access to the legislation promulgated by the EU, including full text of the treaties, regulations, directive, recommendations, and opinions, and provides general information on the governing structure and effect of these acts on domestic law. Practitioners also have access to a searchable archive of decisions from the European Court of Justice, which acts as the highest court in matters of EU law. Both the Eur-Lex EU legislation portal and the case law database are available in all 24 official languages of the EU and maintained by a permanent staff of over 1,750 linguists and 600 interpreters.
Eur-Lex also provides a database of the domestic laws of each member country of the EU through the N-Lex gateway, an integrated searchable interface that incorporates the national legislation of each of the 27 countries. The platform is supported with EuroVoc, a digital multilingual thesaurus that assists users in identifying corresponding legal terminology when looking for foreign terms in the title or text of a document. In addition, these databases were developed in cooperation with a machine translation tool that allows for the search results, which includes the titles, reference, and summaries, to be translated into all of the official languages of the European Union.
For practitioners who are undertaking legal research in a jurisdiction outside of the EU, the Law Library of Congress has provided a resource to aid practitioners in finding both case law and national legislation. The Law Library of Congress has prepared individual reference guides for a selection of countries, including China, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, and Lebanon, that provide an introduction to the legal system as well as links to print and web resources. The Law Library of Congress has also published a guide to aid practitioners in locating English versions of various domestic laws in select jurisdictions as well as English translations of decisions from various international courts and tribunals.
While attorneys should undoubtedly undertake preliminary research on issues of foreign law, it is always recommended to work with a trusted partner when foreign documents arise in the course of discovery or transactional practice. The National Center for State Courts has published a thorough handbook for ensuring best practices when selecting a translations partner, including industry specific terminology, quality assurance safeguards, certification templates, professional accreditations, and formatting requirements, providing a roadmap for practitioners when selecting a language service provider. Our team at LingPerfect Translations is always available to provide any linguistic support with the utmost accuracy and confidentiality under tight deadlines across the globe, and we look forward to partnering with you on any language services in the future.