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UK Law

Research process and resources

  • Legal research process

Based on the content from the "Legal Research. A practitioner's handbook" by Peter Clinch with contributions by Jon Beaumont. Click on the link to access full details of the book in the library.


  • Insight into the research process steps

1 - Plan your research

Follow basic research methods to make your research more effective.

  • Create a research trail with all accessed resources.
  • Reference the selected resources.
  • Know when to stop. List the results of your research and check if they are answering all your questions. Continue your search if you identify some gaps.

2 - Clarification of search topic

Below you can find the basic questions you need to answer to undertake more effectively your search.

  • Am I concerned with International, European, EU or national or local law?
  • Am I concerned with a criminal or civil matter?
  • What is the principal area of law?
  • Am I concerned with substantive or procedural
  • issues?

3 - Categorise the legal topic and identify keywords

After clarifying the scope of your research, you should be able to categorise it within one or more of the following categories:

  • Substantive law
  • Procedural law
  • Definition of legal term or phrase
  • Check currency of known law

Afterwards, you can use the Statsky's Cartwheel to derive the research questions to interrogate both print and electronic sources about the search topic.

4 - Research the problem

Start your search with a secondary source like an authoritative general law encyclopedia, or specific features on legal databases:

  • Halsbury’s Laws of England (available in print   and online via LexisLibrary)
  • Insight (Westlaw UK)
  • Practice Areas (LexisLibrary)

These sources help you to identify key primary sources, whether statutes or cases, and lead you to relevant commentaries.

5 - Search latest updates & commentaries

For legislation check proposals that might affect known law, tracing progress of relevant bills through the legislature.

For cases trace judicial history of a case, verifying that judgment still good law or overruled by later decisions.




Volumes in the GSM London library catalogue are classified using an adapted version of the London Classification of Business Studies.  

Law (general). jurisprudence, lawyers' skills, legal research PA
English law PBB
International law PC
Public international law PCD
Private international law PCE
EU law PCG
Constitutional law. Administrative law, judiciary PFC
Criminal law PFD
Human rights PG
Contract law PGC
Tort law PGCC
Property law PGD
Land law PGDB
Inheritance and succession law PGDD
Employment law PGEE
Company law PGH
Trials PHA

To easily find books on the shelves, check the correspondence between the practice area or topic of your interest and the assigned class mark on the spine of the volumes from the table on the right.


The Journal of

Business Law

Oxford Journal

of Legal Studies

Law Society



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