Digital Landscape in south America: Uruguay



Law of Transparency:

In 2008, Law 18381 on Right of Access to Public Information was promulgated.  The law requires government entities to make legal information relevant to its work available on its website in a manner that is easy to find and access.  The following is one scholar’s analysis of the law.


Latin Laws: Biblioteca Legal Latinoamericana- redirects users to official Uruguayan government websites and other unofficial databases for a variety of legal documents.  This is a great place to start, but the material posted is now a few years old so follow-up research to confirm currency is required.

IberIUS: Red Iberoamericana de Información y Documentación Judicial - has unofficial, pdf and doc, full-text documents in its collection including a few important codes and laws.  The site, although scant for Uruguay (embarrassingly misspelled on the front page), additionally provides information using graphs and text to explain Uruguay’s judicial organization, individual courts, and other government organs.

NATLEX is the database of the International Labour Organisation.   The focus of NATLEX is on national labor, social security, and related human rights legislation.  The records in NATLEX provide abstracts of legislation (with internally hyperlinked documents) and relevant citation information.  Full-text pdfs of scanned original document are made available when possible as are links to relevant online resources.  One can browse by county or subject, or search by keywords and by subject classifications.

ECOLEX is a database of environmental law operated jointly by UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and incorporates environmental law holdings from each of these organizations.  One can search any number of ways including by country. ECOLEX includes information on treaties, international soft-law and other non-binding policy and technical guidance documents, national legislation, judicial decisions, and law and policy literature. The results are abstracts and citation and indexing information about each document.  Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.

FAOLEX is the database of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.  After selecting one of 15 topics or “all”, the user is directed to an advanced search screen where one can focus the search by country among other options.  The results are abstracts with citation and indexing information for each document.  Full-text of most documents is obtained by linking the user to government sites containing the document.

The Doing Business Law Library hosted by the World Bank - is the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations.  One can search by economy or individual country; results will link to official government sources wherever possible. Translations are generally not official unless indicated otherwise, and although the database is updated regularly, currency is not guaranteed; therefore, further research would be prudent.


The Uruguayan Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

The current 1996 Constitution with amendments through 2004 is available on the website of the Uruguayan Parliament.  The html document links to amending laws and sections referenced within the Constitution.

The Political Databases of the Americas at Georgetown University provides the current 1967 Constitution with amendments up to 2004 and the 1967 Constitution in its original form.  Both are unofficial html documents.

The University of Richmond Constitution Finder - redirects patrons to Uruguay’s 1967 Constitution with reforms through 1996, in an unofficial html document.

Although the website, Constituciones Hispanoamericanas - has not been updated since 2005, it is still a good source of constitutions going back to the days of independence, i.e. early 19th century.  Uruguay’s current 1967 Constitution with 2004 amendments is available as are many of Uruguay’s former Constitutions with reforms going back to its first in 1830.  All documents are unofficial, full-text, html.

Codes, Laws, Proyectos, Decrees, Resolutions, Regulations, and other Legal Norms:

According to Article 1 of the Uruguayan Civil Code, laws take effect ten days after publication in the official gazette, the Diario Oficial de Uruguay, unless otherwise indicated in the legislation. 

The Diario Oficial is available online on the website of the government printing and publications office (IMPO).  One can search the indices of the Diario Oficial for free from the date of its inception, 13 September 1905, but one must subscribe (fee-based) for the full-text content. 

The national office of Official Prints and Publications (IMPO) offers an impressive, free legal database that requires basic registration.  One can access full-text laws from 1905, decrees from 1964, resolutions from 1975, international norms published in the Diario Oficial, the current Uruguayan Constitution, annotated with concordances, many current codes with concordances, jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of Justice and other tribunals from the mid-1980s, and more.  The advanced search engine is intuitive and results are presented in unofficial html with hyperlinked interior legal references.  Some official and original digital images of laws are available.

The Parliament maintains a free database with thousands of legal instruments including laws from 1935, proyectos or proposed laws and related documents from 2000, texts approved by the House of Representatives from 2005, transcripts of Senate and House debates from 2002 and 2000 respectively, acts of Parliament from 1985, daily proceedings summaries and transcripts from the Senate and House from 1989 and 2001 respectively, and international treaties and agreements.  All documents are available in official html or pdf format; some pdfs are original, signed, and scanned documents.  Where possible, the documents contain hyperlinks to other legal documents within the database.

The website of the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay maintains a database of recent laws, decrees, resolutions, proyectos or proposed laws, all going back to 2000; and official missions going back to 2010.   The older documents are available in html only.  Most of the more recent documents (from March 2005) are scanned pdfs of the original, signed documents; the remaining are pdfs authenticated with the seal of a government body.

The World Law Guide has a list of Uruguayan laws, organized topically, most of which redirect the user to official government websites.  This is a terrific place to look for laws pertaining to a multitude of topics.

Over 17,000 English and Spanish summaries of Uruguayan laws and a handful of summaries of Uruguayan doctrine are available on the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) of the national Library of Congress of the United States of America from 1950 to today.  Although no full-text is available, citations are provided to the Diario Oficial.

Legislation by Topic:

Several government ministries make relevant laws available on their website:

The website of the General Accountant of the Nation - has more than the financial and budget information of the country.  It hosts a free legal databank (BDJ) of laws, decrees, resolutions, and other legal norms relevant to the work of the agency.  There is one page devoted to the laws on access to public information where all the documents are official and authentic scanned pdfs of the original law, decree or resolution.  The other legal portions of the wb

The Ministry of the Interior provides a handful of laws, decrees, and resolutions pertaining to the work of the office.  The documents are available in pdf, some of which are scanned originals.

The Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture, and Fish has several departments.  The forestry sector provides a webpage with a chronological list of relevant laws.  The full-text documents are scanned, original pdfs.

The Ministry of Social Development has a collection of resolutions, decrees, and other legal instruments organized chronologically from 2009, the year of its creation.  The documents are pdfs and contain authentication markings of the ministry; the decrees are scanned pdfs of the original document.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has a few relevant laws, decrees, and edicts on its website. 

The Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mining has a webpage listing chronologically its resolutions for investment.  These documents are scanned pdfs of the original resolutions.  There is also a small collection of relevant decrees, laws, and resolutions.  These documents are a mix of html, pdf, scanned original pdfs, doc, and xls.  

The OAS website on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition has a page for Uruguay - wherein texts such as the Uruguyan Constitution, the codes of criminal law and criminal procedure, and other relevant codes and national legislation are provided.  There are also bilateral extradition and other relevant treaties, as well as multilateral treaties going back to the early 20th century.  Some of these documents are official pdfs, others are unofficial html, doc, and pdf documents.


The judiciary in Uruguay exists only at the national level; cities and departments do not have an independent court system.  The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court in Uruguay and acts as a court of cassation as well as a constitutional court.  Uruguay, as a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights, submits to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as the court of last instance in relevant matters. 

Court decisions and opinions are not a source of law in Uruguay, but rather interpret the law.  Nonetheless, decisions of the courts, especially the Supreme Court of Justice, are used as a guide in subsequent trials.   Judicial decisions from the Supreme Court of Justice, the Electoral Tribunal, the Accounting Tribunal, and others, are published in the Diario Oficial.

The national office of Official Prints and Publications (IMPO) offers an impressive, free legal database that requires basic registration.  One can access full-text jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of Justice and other tribunals from the mid-1980s.  The advanced search engine is intuitive and results are presented in html with hyperlinked interior legal references.

The Administrative Tribunal website has a handful of important sentences that are freely available to the public - but complete full-text access to the sentences of the tribunal requires a subscription.

Doctrine (Journals, Treatises, Commentary):

Dialnet - is an open-access index of journals based at the Universidad de La Rioja, Spain.  It contains a large number of Latin American legal journals and articles.  One can search for journals or articles using advanced search functions.  Some articles and journals are available full-text online from the journal website; a few articles are available full-text from these indices.

Redalyc is a database of Latin American and Caribbean journals with full-text, authentic pdfs.  Although it does not yet contain any legal journals from Uruguay, there are law review articles about legal issues in Uruguay indexed and available in the database.

Latindex - provides bibliographic information for Latin American journals, such as the Anuario de Derecho Constitucional Latinoamericano and the Anuario de Derecho Penal Uruguayo, but does not provide a database to search for articles within the journals nor does it provide full-text access to journal content. 

A collection of open access journals from Latin America, including Uruguay, can found on the website of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and another at the Library of the Uruguayan Association of Escribanos


Almost 1,500 treaties and other international agreements from 1997 to the present to which Uruguay is a party are available in the database maintained by the Parliament.  The documents are available in either html, general pdf, or a scanned original pdf.  One can search by document type, date, title, and full-text keyword.

The Organization of American States (OAS) - has a list of bilateral and multilateral treaties between and among countries in the Americas focusing on extradition, drug trafficking, and international criminal law.  One can browse alphabetically or search by keyword.

The United Nations Treaty Collection - contains the full-text, official, scanned pdf of all multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations.  One can search by popular name, keyword, United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS) volume, or country.

Commercial Databases:

El Derecho Digital - is a subscription database of legal information including laws, decrees, international instruments, jurisprudence, and doctrine.

CADE – is a respected database geared toward business and legal professionals.  The legal section combines legislation, jurisprudence, doctrine, and bibliographic indices.  There are also modules on employment law, social security, and construction law.

La Ley Online Uruguay, owned by Thomson Reuters (Westlaw) - is  a database of Uruguayan doctrine and jurisprudence.   

The NatLaw World Database carries some legislation including the full-text of many codes, laws, decrees, and a few important and recent Supreme Court of Justice and appellate court decisions as published in the Diario Oficial.  The collection contains some official scanned pdfs of the original document, but most are unofficial html pages prepared by the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade.

Kluwer Arbitration- has a database of all bilateral investment treaties including those from Latin American countries.  Most of the BITs are available in full-text html.  Although one can search in English, the results are in the vernacular.

Constitutions of the Countries of the World, recently purchased by Oxford University Press from Oceana, contains unofficial English translations of many past and current constitutions including those from Latin America.  An unofficial English version of Uruguay’s 1966 Constitution with amendments up to 1996 is available.

The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) - indexes one Uruguyan journal, the Anuario de Derecho Civil Uruguayo.  

vLex - has a small collection of Uruguayan law.  It contains Normas Legislativas from 2000 – 2009 and no jurisprudence or doctrine.  All material is unofficial html and vLex-generated pdfs; there are no official pdfs.  Instant Google translation is available. 

Updated Date: 
Sunday, June 9, 2013
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