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Foreign & Comparative Law

What is FCIL?

Foreign, Comparative, & International Law (often abbreviated as FCIL) are actually three distinct areas of law, though they are often lumped together. Below are basic explanations of each:

Foreign Law is the national, or domestic, law of any country other than the one within which you are working. This type of law has no effect outside of the boundaries of that nation.

Comparative Law is the study of the similarities and/or differences between two or more countries or between two or more legal systems.

International Law encompasses two very broad areas of law: Public International Law and Private International Law.

  • Public International Law governs interactions between states (nations), between states and intergovernmental bodies (IGOs), and between international bodies themselves.
  • Private International Law governs the choice of law (which jurisdiction's law) to apply when there are conflicts in the domestic/national law of different countries that relate to private transactions.

This guide will ONLY cover foreign and comparative law and outline how to conduct research into the laws of countries other than the United States. For topics related to international law, check out these guides:

Other Jurisdiction-Specific Research Guides