<<!سلام ,نوروز مبارک>>

Today, 20th March, is the Hormoz (the first day of a Persian month) of Farvardin, and marks the first day of the Iranian new year or ‘nowruz’. Said to have been founded by the prophet Zoroaster himself, this celebration of the ‘new day’ is one of the holiest days in the Zoroastrian calendar, and is still celebrated worldwide today.

This year the LawBod Blog seeks to mark Nowruz in its own particular way – by examining some of our resources available on the legal jurisdiction of Iran (and using this as a handy excuse to remind you that we collect material for a wide range of subjects!).Iranian law books on shelf.

Nestled amongst our ‘rest of the world’ collection on Floor 1 of the law library, you could be forgiven for overlooking the fairly small number of books which deal specifically with Iranian law as this is not an area which has received a lot of serious academic attention in the legal sphere. Whilst simple guides to the Iranian legal system, the constitutional structure of the executive, and the varying role of the judiciary can be found online, the researching scholar could do far worse than to consult two detailed books by Mohammadi: Judicial Reform and Reorganization in 20th Century Iran (2008) [Iran 510 M697a] and Constitutional Law in Iran (2012) [Iran 510 M697b].

Searching for primary sources on the law of Iran, it helps to have some background knowledge to the country’s constitutional history. The Constitutional Revolution of 1906-7 paved the way for the creation of a new Iranian constitution and formation of the Majlis (parliament). With the rise of the Pahlavi kings, Iran became a constitutional monarchy de jure, but with a powerful head of state who controlled the executive. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 led to the writing of a new constitution; one which would transform the judiciary, government and executive with the hope of creating a new culturally, economically and politically independent Iran.

The Bodleian Libraries do hold copies of this constitution – both in farsi and english – but sadly none are held within the law library. Translated versions are also available online, for example from the Iran Chamber Society.

The attempt since the revolution of 1979 to amalgamate shari’a law – a law which is predominantly a jurist’s law rather than a judge’s law – has led to the creation of law codes. Both a Civil Code (translated edition available within the law library) and a Penal Code (available online from here, or here) form the legislative basis for many judicial proceedings in Iran.

This blog post ends with a word of warning: Iran has undergone a lot of political change in the past fifty years, and much of what is written – especially on the internet – cannot be considered without betraying a form of political bias. For the legal scholar researching on Iran, a familiarity with the political history is still a necessity.

Some other resources:

Nowruz entry in Encyclopaedia Iranica

Islamic Republic’s Penal Code from 1982 (revised in 1989)

Iran Heritage Foundation

Haleem, M., A. Sherif & K. Daniels (eds), Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, (London, 2003)

Jany, J., Judging in the Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian Legal Traditions, (Farnham, 2012)

Mallat, C., Introduction to Middle Eastern Law, (Oxford, 2007)

Peters, R., Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law, (Cambridge, 2005)

Zero hours  employment contracts (or ZHC’s) have been widely discussed recently. This post seeks to (very briefly) define a “zero hours contract” and highlight the current Government consultation on the subject which ends on March 13.

 Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Kevan Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevandotorg/

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Kevan Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevandotorg/

First of all, what constitutes a ‘zero hours contract’? I was rather surprised to learn from the consultation that there is no legal definition of a zero hours contract in domestic law. Rather, it’s a term that encompasses a variety of different employment contracts. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the use of such contracts has increased in the past 5 years, and that there are currently about 250,000 such contracts in effect in the UK at present.

The Department of Business and Industry consultation defines a zero hours contract this way:

In general terms a zero hours contract is an employment contract in which the employer does not guarantee the individual any work, and the individual is not obliged to accept any work offered.

The consultation also contains a useful chart outlining the employment rights one has, depending on whether one is considered an employee, employee shareholder, worker, or is self-employed. Some have incorrrectly assumed that a zero hours contract neccessarily means sacrificing these rights; this is not the case.

The consultation ocncentrates on two controversial aspects of zero hours contracts:

1. Exclusivity

Specifically, employer exclusivity clauses that can prevent workers from seeking additional employment even when the employer with which they have a zero hours contract has no work to offer them.

2. Transparency

Or, how to address a widespread lack of understanding about the nature of zero hours contracts.

The Government is seeking input on various options it is proposing in relation to zero hours contracts, and those who wish to participate can do so here.

We have just added the History of International LawHeinOnline collections list collection in HeinOnline to our subscription, offering over 1,000 titles, covering subjects from the Law of the Sea to the Nuremberg trials.  You’ll find it in the list of collections on the right of the screen as you open HeinOnline; click on the + sign to see the sub-collections.  The collection is divided into War & Peace, Law of the Sea, Hague Conference & Conventions, International Arbitration, Serials, a Bibliography of Other Works, and Scholarly Articles.  Sadly the titles cannot be found online by searching SOLO at the moment, which means you’ll need to take a look at HeinOnline to see whether a title is included, but I’ll do my best to give you a flavour of them…

The majority of titles were published in the first half of the twentieth century, but there are also older and more recent works – the earliest publication date I have spotted so far is 1613, William Welwod’s Abridgement of All Sea-Lawes; Gathered Forth of All Writings and Monuments, Which Are to Be Found among Any People or Nation, upon the Coasts of the Great Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, found in the Law of the Sea collection.  If Welwod is a name whose significance escapes you then take advantage of the richness of resources in HeinOnline and try J. W. Cairns, ‘Academic feud, blood feud, and William Welwood: legal education in St Andrews, 1560–1611’, Edinburgh Law Review, 2 (1998), 158–79, 255–87.  (For other resources on International Sea Law, see our recent post http://wp.me/pcP3p-1tv.)

There are a number of titles likely to be of interest to historians or students of International Relations, as well as lawyers.  As a quick sample of the historical interest, the War & Peace collection contains (among others!) Gooch & Temperly, British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914 (London, 1927-1938); Correspondence with the German Government regarding the Alleged Misuse of British Hospital Ships (London, 1917); and Thodore Roosevelt, Naval War of 1812, or the History of the United States Navy during the Last War with Great Britain (New York, 1883).

Sample titles

A sample of titles

Works such as Schuman,  American Policy toward Russia since 1917: A Study of Diplomatic History International Law & Public Opinion (New York, 1923) or Moore, Principles of American Diplomacy (1918) may also be of interest to users of the Vere Harmsworth Library, which holds the hard copies of these titles.  More recent discussions of the development of international law can be found under the scholarly articles tab, which lists items from the Harvard Law Review, the American Journal of International Law, the Yale Journal of International Law and a number of others.

HeinOnline search box
Once you’ve gone into a collection you’re interested in (either the top level ‘History of International Law’ or a sub-collection) click on the Search tab to bring up a small search box on the right to check whether your title is here.  Advanced search options and search tips are, as usual, available below the quick search box.

LibGuide screenshot_002I thought that I would take the opportunity, having done a lot of research for my soon-to-be-published LibGuide on the topic, to share a few interesting pieces of international legislation and highlight a significant case concerning indigenous peoples that I discovered along the way. Also, it may be a (not so subtle) attempt draw attention to the new guide! The LibGuide focuses on physical and electronic resources for indigenous peoples in a public international law dimension, as well as having pages devoted to resources on indigenous peoples in the jurisdictions of Australia, Africa, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, New Zealand and the USA.  These include physical resources held in the Law Library, and online res0urces, which are either free or available through library subscription using an Oxford Single Sign On username and password. Through working on the guide, I came to understand how the legislation affecting, and the social and political position of, indigenous peoples varies considerably between jurisdictions. Take a look, and see if you find anything useful! Note the OED definition of indigenous: ‘ born…naturally in a land or region; native or belonging naturally to’ .

The struggle of indigenous peoples throughout history and today, to lay claim to their human rights as the natural peoples of lands across the world has become an important concern in international human rights law in recent years. The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has highlighted their push for rights and representation in areas including land, language, culture, education, health and housing. United Nations also has several bodies which advise on, support, and monitor indigenous rights. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues informs the UN Economic and Social Council on matters relating to indigenous peoples. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples advises the UN Human Rights Council on indigenous issues, and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples promotes and reports on issues of concern. Additionally, there is a be a UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. The LibGuide has links to numerous titles held in the law library and electronic resources, discussing United Nations in relation to indigenous issues.

Photograph by David Jackmanson. Depicts the Australian, Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at the Queensland parliament.

Photograph by David Jackmanson. Depicts the Australian, Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at the Queensland parliament.

A famous, historic High Court case involving Australian Aboriginal land rights is Mabo v. Queensland [No.2], which is available electronically on Westlaw AU (access through OxLIP+) and in hardcopy in the Commonwealth Law Reports, (1992) 175 CLR 1. The case involved five Torres Strait Islander Aboriginals of the Murray Islands, headed by Eddie Mabo, arguing for their rights to the land on which they lived, given their traditional ownership and connection to it. (They have been self-sufficient, with their own laws for centuries.) In 1879, the land was assigned to the Queensland government under terra nullius, further confirmed by the Queensland Coast Islands Declaration Act 1985. However, Mabo v Queensland No 1 in 1988 found this act to be in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The case was brought to court again in 1992, and it ruled that, given their connection to the land and their traditional ownership, the land was not terra nullius, and native title (Aboriginal right to traditional land because of historical connection)  should be and could be recognised under common law.  It had a profound impact on legislation in relation to land in Australia, resulting in the Native Title Act 1993.  The Act recognises and protects native title. Notably, Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Aboriginals are still not recognised in the Australian Constitution, although this looks set to be rectified in the near future, as the Australian House of Representatives has recently passed an indigenous recognition bill.

This just one example (and a brief overview at that) of numerous high-profile (and not so high profile) cases of indigenous peoples fighting discriminatory laws. The challenge for indigenous peoples across the world is an ongoing one, and much material can be found in the Law Library documenting this. Remember, you can always contact the library at law.library@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for any research help (and take a look at the Lib Guide – look out for a tweet announcing its publication!)

The Supreme Court of Canada and LexUM announced just before Christmas that the Court’s Decisions website now contains all decisions since 1907, and judgments in leave applications since 2006. The collection is updated within minutes of the public release of the judgments by the Court.

“All published judgments since 1876 from cases which were appealed to the SCC from the British Columbia Court of Appeal have been added to the database, courtesy of CanLII and the Law Foundation of BC.  Appeals from the Ontario Court of Appeal, also dating back to 1876, were added to the SCC database last year.”

Click to try the SCC Decisions database

The LexUM site has been the main public source for Supreme Court decisions for 20 years, and is a very useful resource if you are away from the Library, where you will find the Supreme  Court Reports (S.C.R.)  1923 –  shelved on the main floor at Cw Can 100 C90.

For Oxford University staff and students, who have access to HeinOnline, Hein includes SCC decisions from 1876-2011 (as at January 2013).  LexisLibrary carries Supreme Court of Canada Judgments from 1876 to date, and on Westlaw, the CANSCC-CS database contains the full text of documents of all reported Supreme Court of Canada cases, from 1876.

To find out more about Canadian legal resources, you might like to use our Guide to Canadian Law.

If you’re looking for something to give you a break from study but keep your mind on all things legal, BBC Four is currently showing a short season of programmes under the heading Justice – A citizen’s guide.  Offerings range from drama-documentaries to debates on topical issues.

Particularly recommended is The Highest Court in the Land, which includes interviews with four Supreme Court Justices, exploring the nature of their work, how the Supreme Court functions and some of the more controversial cases to come before them.  The Justices not only discuss the legal issues involved, but the personal and professional pressures of their responsibilities


Most of the programmes are available on the BBC iPlayer the ‘on demand’ service from the BBC that allows you to watch programmes over the internet or download them to watch offline. Links can also be found at the BBC Four website, here, along with a list of the upcoming programmes in the season.

The Kluwer Arbitration website has changed a lot recently, from simple changes of layout to brand new functions. This post aims to introduce these changes and how to benefit from them.

What can I use Kluwer Arbitration for?

The website offers arbitration specific information on:

  • Commentary
  • Conventions
  • Case law and awards
  • Legislation
  • Rules
  • Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)


If you are on the University’s network, you will be automatically signed in to the website. If you are using the website from outside the University, you can access via OxLIP+.

The New Look

This is what the homepage looks like now:

You can find a demonstration of how to use the new Kluwer website on the right side of the home page. This takes you through the variety of services the website provides clearly and concisely.

Main Features

  • Browsing

Use the tabs on the top of the screen or the ‘browse cataegories’ box. You can browse:




NY Convention Decisions




  • Advanced Search

Click the ‘advanced search’ button to search across all material in the database. Complete the relevant fields and use the drop down menus when necessary.

Each field has a question mark icon, which helps you with any problems. You can choose to either print or save the results.

  • Recently Added Material

You can look at books and journals the website has recently added to its collection, including newly published Kluwer Law International books. You have access to over 100 key arbitration books and can choose to print or email your desired text.

  • Blog

On the home page is a link to Kluwer Arbitration’s blog, showing you all the latest posts on up to date events.

  • News

Follow the most recent news provided by the Institute of Transnational Arbitration (ITA) contributors.


The home page has clear directions for you to navigate to the particular part of the web site you want, making it simple to find what you need.

If you are unfamiliar with Kluwer Arbitration, watching the demo as a starting point is  a must, giving an overview of what  the site can do for you and how you can expolit its services.

The new look website is more user friendly with an increased number functions, making the study of arbitration more accessible.

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