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The Harvard Law School Library has a strong collection of German law materials and this guide explains some of the different research strategies required for German legal research. The majority of sources will be in German. Small portions of the materials are translated into English.
The majority of the German materials are located on the first floor of the International Legal Studies Library (ILS), and a few commonly used items are kept in the ILS Reading Room. Harvard Law School classifies foreign law by the Moody system. All German materials are classified in the "GER" section. The system then arranges materials by form, subject, and author. For example, all legislation is in the 200s and all judicial materials are in the 500s. Using the Moody classification system can make legal research in foreign jurisdictions much easier. See the ILS guide, Using the Moody Classification System, available at ILS Reference and on the Library home page, for more details. Also, please note that the Library collection is date split, with older materials (generally German material before 1980) being kept in storage.
For additional information, please do not hesitate to come to the ILS Reference Desk or call ILS Reference at 495-9001.
Following is a list of sources for German legislation. Although the most official and comprehensive source is the Bundesgestzblatt described first, the more common way of doing German research is to go directly to the commercial publications described below.
The Official Gazette: Bundesgesetzblatt (BGBl)
Germany's official gazette of federal law, the Bundesgesetzblatt is chronological, issued once or twice a week. There are two parts, Teil I for domestic laws and Teil II for treaties. At HLSL, the BGBl is available in microfiche, and in part by CD-ROM. Recent issues are available on the Internet.
Bundesgesetzblatt. Teil I. [1959-].
Teil I for domestic laws. Includes Fundstellennachweis.
LOCATION: Law School: Mic GER 201 T1 (Drawer 1037)
Bundesgesetzblatt. Teil II. [1951-].
Teil II for all ratified treaties and international agreements.
LOCATION: Law School: Mic GER 201 T2 (Drawer 1037)
Bundesgesetzblatt. Teil I und II. [1990-1997].
Available on CD-ROM
Law School: MIC GER 201
Bundesgesetzblatt. Teil I.
1998 forward is available on CD-ROM at the ILS CD-ROM station. Includes the Fundstellennachweis.
LOCATION: Law School: MIC GER 201
Juristisches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken
http://www.jura.uni-sb.de/BGBl/ Teil I is available in PDF from 1998 forward.
Bundesgesetzblatt. Teil I.
http://www.bgbl.de From 1998. Free source, but users must register.
Indexes to the Bundesgesetzblatt
The annual indexes to the BGBl are the Fundstellennachweis A for BGBl Teil I and Fundstellennachweis B for BGBl Teil II. These indexes cover all laws and international agreements currently in force at the time of publication.
Fundstellennachweis A. [1972-].
Use this to access German domestic law in force (BGBl I) by subject and chronology. Note: Later editions are included in the BGBl microfiche and CD-ROM discussed above.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 200 FUN
Fundstellennachweis B. [1968-].
Use this to access German treaties in force (BGBl II) by country, subject and chronology.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS JX 236.5.F86
Amendments & Codifications of the Bundesgesetzblatt
Amended laws are reproduced in the BGBl. There is no systematic and comprehensive codification of the BGBl by subject (i.e. there is nothing comparable to the United States Code). In the BGBl, consolidated versions are only reprinted when there are considerable changes. Complete citations to all amendments and changes that are in force can be found in the newest Fundstellennachweis.
Some, but not all laws in the Bundesgesetzblatt are codified. Major codifications include the Civil Code, the Commercial Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure and are published separate from the BGBl. One can cite directly to these codes. For an excellent list and description of these codes, see Charles Szladits' Guide to Foreign Legal Materials at ILS RR GER 020 KEA.
Note that an official consolidated version of federal laws in force was published in 1963 and is called the Bundesgesetzblatt Teil III. However it was not continued after that and is only useful for determining the laws in force between 1867 and 1958. It is still referred to in the Fundstellennachweis A for the texts of laws in force at that time. (Germany (West). Sammlung des Bundesrechts: Bundesgesetzblatt, Teil III [1958-1969].
LOCATION: Law School: Mic GER 203 F58 (Drawer 1037).)
Commercial Collections & Codifications
To find the text of a German code, such as the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)(Civil Code), one usually goes to a commercial collection. Two of the most important commercial compilations are the following loose-leafs, commonly known as Schönfelder and Sartorius, which are both updated frequently. Within these publications, one can find texts of various codes. For a list of the more common German codes, see the Bluebook, Table 2, page 264-265.
Deutsche Gesetze; Sammlung des Zivil-, Straf- und Verfahrensrechts. München, C.H. Beck. Begründet von Heinrich Schönfelder. [1966-]. This loose-leaf contains the most frequently used civil and criminal laws laws and includes a subject index.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 203S
Verfassungs- und Verwaltungsgesetze der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Textausgabe. Sartorius. [1958-]. This loose-leaf contains the most frequently used constitutional and administrative laws and includes a subject index.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 360S F58
There are several good translations of German law by subject. All translations are unofficial, and the correct citation will still be to the BGBl (although to facilitate future research, a parallel citation to the translation is highly recommended). Most of these translations will be found in the ILS RR in the German collection. For instance, the translated German Civil Code by Goren (1994) is at ILS RR GER 310 F94.
Subsidiary Legislation in the Bundesanzeiger (BAnz)
Bundesanzeiger. Bonn: Bundesministerium der Justiz [1950-]. This includes subsidiary legislation, including administrative law, notices and announcements.
LOCATION: Law School: MIC GER 401 (Drawer 1038 and Drawer 987)
Laws of the States
Germany is a federation of 16 Länder (states). Each German Land has its own legislation. Harvard Law School Library collects some, but not all of the German states' laws. The most important state laws from all 16 states are collected in the Sammelblatt, a commercial publication.
Sammelblatt für Gesetze, Verordnungen und Bekanntmachungen des Bundes, der Lander und der Besatzungsmachte. [1949-]. A collection of the most important state and federal laws. It is divided by state, and then by year.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 202 SAM
Germany is a civil law country, so case law is not a primary source of law and not as important as it is in the United States. Courts are divided by areas of responsibility, such as constitutional law or labor law. There is no overall collection of all court decisions. Court decisions can be found in the HLSL German collection in the call numbers: GER 500s. Only a small number of court decisions have been translated in to English.
Although there are many other courts in Germany, the most researched courts are the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the Constitutional Court) and the Bundesgerichtshof (the High Court for Civil and Criminal Matters). Both sit in Karlsruhe. The reporters for these two courts are listed below. Indexes are published periodically.
Note that some courts are starting to have Web pages. For example, at http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de, one can find the text of some recent cases. Most of these Web sites can be accessed through the German Internet sites described below.
Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 561 BUN
Decisions of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (1992-1998). Selected decisions in English.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 561 BUN/AE
Bundesgerichtshof. Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Strafsachen. [1951-]. Decisions of the High Court for Criminal Matters.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 580
Bundesgerichtshof. Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Zivilsachen. [1951-]. Decisions of the High Court for Civil Matters.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 510 BUN
A common way to access German legislation by subject is to use German commentaries. There is an extensive collection of German commentaries, which cite laws by article and include a list of relevant literature. For example, using the Kommentar zum Grundgesetz (Schmidt-Bleibtreu, Bruno . Law School: GER 100S F95) is an excellent way to access information about Germany's constitutional law. The Library collects many of these commentaries, and they are located in the German collection by subject. For a list of some of the most frequently used commentaries, see page 207 of Information Sources in Law.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS Ref Desk KJC76.I54 1997
Zeitschriften are an important way to access German legislation and case law. In addition to news and articles about the law, these periodicals often contain full-text or abstracts of cases, and notices of new legislation. Zeitschriften are often published faster than other sources.
Compared to American law reviews, German periodicals are much more subject oriented. The numerous subject-specific Zeitschriften are extremely helpful. For example, a periodical on labor law, might be the best way to find a recent labor law case. All German periodicals are classified in the GER 800s. The call number is further classified by subject. For instance, since the subject code for labor law is 57, all German periodicals on labor law will be classified, GER 857.
Two of the most important general Zeitschriften are the Neue Juristische Wochenschrift (NJW) and the Juristenzeitung (JZ). The best index is the Karlsruher Juristische Bibliographie (KJB).
Neue juristische Wochenschrift. (NJW) [1947-] Weekly publication.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 800 N3
Juristen Zeitung. (JZ) [1951-] Published twice a month.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 800 J78
Karlsruher juristische Bibliographie (KJB) [1965-] The best bibliography to German periodicals. Monthly. Indexes legal periodicals and books by author, subject and classification. This also indexes Festschriften.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR K 38.K37 (older materials in ILS stacks).
In German law, commemorative books (Festschriften) are an important legal research source. Dedicated to eminent legal scholars for their birthdays or other special occasions, these subject-based books often include a rich collection of scholarly articles. These can be difficult to find. The person being honored is named in the title of the Festschrift and is an author in HOLLIS Catalog. The best way to find these articles is the following bibliography, the Bibliographie Juristischer Festshriften und Festschriftenbeitrage. Note, that the Karlsruher Juristiche Bibliographie, described above, also indexes Festschriften, but is less complete.
Bibliographie juristischer Festschriften und Festschriftenbeiträge: Deutschland, Schweiz, Osterreich = Bibliography of Legal Festschriften: Titles and Contents: Germany, Switzerland, Austria. [1864-].
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR KJC 158.5.B53
Finding a book on a subject can be extremely helpful for researchers. Generally shelved in the GER 900s, see the Using the Moody Classification System guide at ILS for more details or ask at the ILS Reference Desk.
Dictionaries, Legal Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
Following is a selective list of dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Dietl/Lorenz. Wörterbuch für Recht, Wirtschaft und Politik: mit erlauternden und rechtsvergleichenden Kommentaren [2000-]German-English, English-German legal dictionary.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR K 52.G4 D54 2000
German Legal Dictionary (Creifelds).
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR GER 010 REC48 1999
Langenscheidt's New College German Dictionary: German-English, English-German .
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR PF 3640.P244 1995x
Kirchner, Hildebert. Kirchner Abkürzungsverzeichnis der Rechtssprache. . The best directory for deciphering complex German abbreviations.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS Ref Desk K 50.K57x 1993
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR K 50.K57x 1993
LOCATION: Law School: GER 010 KIR34 1993
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. 2000.
Citation in articles published in the United States should follow Bluebook standards.
LOCATION: Law School: Reserve KF245.U54 1996
LOCATION: Law School: KF245.U54 1996
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR KF245.U54 1996
There are many good Web sites for German law. Following is a selective list. Links to many of the other numerous German legal Web sites can be found at these three Web sites. Although the majority of texts provided are in German, some English translations are provided. In general, the Web sites are best for more recent legal materials.
Juristisches Internetprojekt Saarbrücken
German Law Archive at the University of Oxford
Additional Guides to German Legal Research
Information Sources in Law. Guides to Information Sources . Chapter 12: Germany, Holger Knudsen
LOCATION: Law School: ILS Ref Desk KJC76.I54 1997
Kearley, Timothy. Charles Szladits' Guide to Foreign Legal Materials: German. Parker School studies in foreign and comparative law, Columbia University, 1990.
LOCATION: Law School: ILS RR GER 020 KEA Copies one & three
Kroger, Detlef. Internet für Juristen: weltweiter Zugriff auf juristische Informationen. 1998.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 907.3 KRO44 1998
Kuner, Christopher. Internet für Juristen: Zugang, Recherche, Kommunikation, Sicherheit, Informationsquellen. 1996.
LOCATION: Law School: GER 907.3 KUN47 1996
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