Skip to Main Content

Research Skills: Locating Legal Sources

A step-by-step approach to ensure that you possess the key skills required to find, retrieve and evaluate information on your research topic.

Primary Sources


Judicial publications are published decisions and judgments of the South African courts. There is a list of references to decided cases related to specific sections for each Act at the back of each statute book. The list refers the user to the specific volumes and page numbers given in the Law Reports. The names of parties involved in a case can also be traced by looking in the Consolidated Index or Noter-Ups. There is also a list of cases related to each topic or subject in LAWSA, the encyclopaedia for South African law. 


The LexisNexis Butterworths Online group of databases publishes the full text of cases, and the Jutastat products are available on the Unisa Library CD-ROM Network (accessed via the WinCDNet icon). 

There are online sites which freely publish the full text of South African cases, eg.


Secondary Sources


The Unisa Library has a large research collection of legal books and they may be located with the help of OASIS, the library’s catalogue.


The library subscribes to several databases which index, abstract and provide the full text of selected legal and criminology journal articles and other legal documentation. These include:

  • Criminal Justice Periodicals (1981+)
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts (1968+)
  • Center for Rural Legal Studies, which may be entered via FirstSearch or Sabinet (articles on legal aspects of SA agriculture)
  • Daily Law Reports (Juta) (unreported cases under consideration for publication in the South African Law Reports from 1997+)
  • Government Gazettes (January 1994+)
  • HeinOnline (full-text access to American and international law journals, legal classics, US Code and Supreme Court Reports, World Constitutions, United Nations Treaty Series, Kluwer Law  International Journal Library, among others)
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (1985+)
  • ISAP (Index to South African Periodicals)(1987+), via FirstSearch or Sabinet
  • Justis Online Legal Library (full-text EU legislation and case law, and UK and Irish legislation from 1235 and case law  from 1163, including repealed Acts and measures)
  • Legal Information Systems (legislation, case law, Bargaining Council agreements and commentary on SA employment law - updated monthly)
  •  Legal Periodicals Full-Text (1981+)
  • Legal Periodicals Retrospective (1918-1981)
  • LexisNexis Butterworths Online
  • Making of Modern Law (American and British legal treatises 1800-1926)
  • Parliamentary Bills (January 1999+)
  • Provincial Gazettes (September 1995+)
  • Sabinet Legal Products (includes Bill Tracker, Policy Documents, and more)
  • Westlaw (full-text access to reported and unreported cases, legislation and selected literature for Australia, Canada, EU, UK and the US)

The library also subscribes to many electronic journal titles which can be found by using the Unisa Library e-Journal Finder.