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ALR International

The American Law Reports (A.L.R.) series has recently added a new title, ALR International.  This new title is intended to collect and analyze U.S. and foreign cases from both English and non-English-language jurisdictions on topics of international importance.  So far one volume has been published, and is available in Westlaw in its own file (i.e., not in the A.L.R. file).  For the most part, annotations involve the construction and application of various important multilateral treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCP), and the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters, to name several.

The electronic version of ALR International has many of the same advantages as the standard ALR series, including links to cases and statutes discussed in the text, and suggested related sources listed in the column on the left of the Westlaw screen.  Naturally, there are no links to case law from jurisdictions whose cases are not contained in the Westlaw database.  For example, in the annotation on the ICCP, there are links to numerous cases from Hong Kong and Australia, but not to any of the cases from India.  So researchers interested in reading the Indian case law will have to use the citations to find the full text in other, probably printed, case reporters.

One major caveat to bear in mind is that ALR International does not really “cover the waterfront.”  Jurisdictions with relevant case law may not be represented in a given annotation.  This is not surprising, given the difficulty of global case law monitoring.  Moreover, it appears initially that case law generated by relevant international bodies, such as the U.N. Human Rights Committee, is under-represented.  Therefore, researchers should not rely exclusively on ALR International for finding relevant case law.  It would be best to use it in conjunction with other sources, such as the International Law Reports, which is also available electronically, and International Litigation Procedure.

Nevertheless, ALR International is a welcome addition to the short list of sources that make foreign case law accessible to American researchers.  Hopefully, the Westlaw version will also have the virtue of providing higher profile to English-language, but under-utilized foreign case law that is already in Westlaw.


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