Normann Witzleb, Dieter Martiny, Ulrich Thoelke and Tim Frericks (European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder))

The WWW is already one of the most important devices for research on comparative law. Its major strength lies in facilitating research on where certain information is published and how it can be obtained. Increasingly, legal material itself is available online. Finding information through search engines and link collections has become easier, but the unstructured and uncontrolled nature of the WWW means that it depends very much on the nature of information and search tools used whether one encounters the information required within a reasonable amount of time.

This article has two aims: It undertakes to give a survey of material on private law in Europe currently available on the Internet, including some reflections on the present usefulness of the Internet for comparative legal research. On a more practical level, this article also portrays and introduces the 'virtuelle Rechtsvergleicher', a research tool designed to accommodate the specific needs of comparative lawyers and to allow structured and easy access to legal sites in this field. It presents the most important links to resources on uniform law, comparative law, private international law, European Union Law as well as legal material and related information on more than twenty European jurisdictions, the USA, Israel and Australia.

Cite as: Normann Witzleb, Dieter Martiny, Ulrich Thoelke and Tim Frericks, Comparative Law and the Internet, vol 3.2 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, (October 1999), <>

1. Introduction
2. Legal information on the Internet
2.1 Reference material
2.2 Content material
2.2.1 Primary sources
2.2.2 Secondary sources
3. Specific usefulness of the Internet for comparative lawyers
3.1 Accessibility
3.2 Searchability
3.3 Authenticity
3.4 Up-to-dateness
4. How to search legal material on the Internet
4.1 Search engines
4.2 Legal indices
5. The 'virtuelle Rechtsvergleicher'
5.1 Concept
5.2 Structure
5.3 Scope
5.3.1 Legal fields
5.3.2 The countries
5.4 The categories
6. Concluding remarks

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