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Database Guides: Westlaw

Information about using the various databases in the A-Z Online Resources,


What is it?

Westlaw is a collection of many different legal databases, and contains a mix of both full text documents and citations.  It coverage of legislation starts from 1267, cases start from 1865 and journals start from 1986.

What is it for?

Use Westlaw to find reported and unreported cases, journal articles on legal topics, and consolidated legislation. You can also use the legislation advanced search to see how a piece of legislation stood on a particular date in history.

How to access it

Login to the Portal and then choose Westlaw (new interface) from the A-Z List of Online Resources

How to search

See More Searching, below.

Full text?

Full text consolidated legislation.  Some journal articles and case reports are full text - if a citation is underlined, this is a link to the full text.

Other useful resources

See the Law Subject Research Guide.

Further help

Click on "help" at the top of the Westlaw screen. See below for information advice on how to search Westlaw.

More Searching

General Search Tips

Within Westlaw, you can use the following operators in your searches:

AND to narrow your search, e.g., hospital AND trust

OR to broaden your search, e.g., murder OR homicide

" " to search for a phrase, e.g., "dangerous dogs"

Truncation: Use ! as a wildcard: e.g. export! finds exports, exporting, exporter, etc.

Use * to replace a single character e.g. int**net finds internet and intranet.

Plurals: Westlaw will automatically retrieve plurals for your search, for example a search for damage will also find damages. Irregular plurals are also automatically retrieved, e.g., a search for mouse will find mice. If you do not want this to happen, put # in from of your search word, i.e. #mouse will find mouse but not mice.

Finding Cases

UK: Click on the Cases link at the top of the Westlaw screen and then enter the case details in the search box(es).

EU: Click on the EU link at the top of the Westlaw screen, and then fill in the appropriate search boxes.

International (including US): Click on the Westlaw International link at the very top of the screen. Next, type your citation into the "find by citation" box at the left of the Westlaw International screen.

Finding UK Legislation

Click on the Legislation link at the top of the screen, and then enter the title of your legislation into the Act/SI search box. This search box will look for both Westminster and Holyrood legislation. You can use the advanced search option to find how legislation stood on a particular date.

Westlaw contains consolidated legislation.  For the original text of an act, use the HMSO website at, or use the Current Law Statutes or Public General Acts series, both of which are available on paper in the main library.

Finding UK Legal Journal Articles

The search option under the Journals link will search both the full-text journals available within Westlaw, and the Legal Journals Index. The Legal Journals Index includes information about journal articles that are not full text in Westlaw, but may be available through other resources. Pleasecontact the Library if you would like more help searching for legal journal articles.

If you are looking for journal articles about a specific case, use the search option under the cases link. This will bring up a results screen about your case, which will include information about any journal articles that mention your case.

Non-UK Material

Westlaw also contains a large amount of EU and US legal material.  If you would like help searching this material, you can contact the Library.

Accessing a specific journal

Westlaw contains a number of full text journals.  These can be accessed by clicking on the Journals link, scrolling down to browse, and then clicking on "full text articles".