Quick start

A quick introduction to using the Laws.Africa Content API.

This quick start guide will get you started with fetching legislation from the Laws.Africa Content API. It includes:

  1. Signing up for a Laws.Africa account

  2. Listing available legislation

  3. Fetching the HTML for a piece of legislation

  4. Displaying the HTML

This guide uses the Cape Town by-laws as example content, which is free and doesn't require an API subscription. Other content such as national laws require a subscription.

Find out more about API subscriptions and licensing terms at https://laws.africa/api/detail.

Create an account

To get started, you'll need a free Laws.Africa account and API token.

  1. Sign up for a free Laws.Africa account at https://edit.laws.africa/accounts/login/

In the examples below, replace <YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN> with your personal API token.

Once you're signed into your account, you can also visit the API URLs in your browser.

Get a list of by-laws

Fetch a list of the by-laws (municipal legislation) for the City of Cape Town.

$ curl -H "Authorization: Token <YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN>" \

The za-cpt part of the URL identifies the City of Cape Town in South Africa.

Fetch the Animal by-law

Let's fetch the details of Cape Town's Animal by-law, in JSON format. This includes the title, publication details and a list of other API calls you can make for additional details.

$ curl -H "Authorization: Token <YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN>" \

Laws.Africa can provide us with a Table of Contents for the by-law, also in JSON format. Let's fetch that:

$ curl -H "Authorization: Token <YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN>" \

Now let's get the HTML content of Section 3 of the by-law, regarding dog registration and licensing:

$ curl -H "Authorization: Token <YOUR_AUTH_TOKEN>" \

Display the by-law

Finally, let's put that HTML into a webpage and include the Laws.Africa Law Widgets to apply stylesheets to make it look good:

<script type="module" src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/@lawsafrica/law-widgets@latest/dist/lawwidgets/lawwidgets.esm.js"></script>

  <section class="akn-section" id="section-3" data-id="section-3">
    <h3>3. Dog registration and licensing</h3>
    <section class="akn-subsection" id="section-3.1" data-id="section-3.1">
      <span class="akn-num">(1)</span>
      <span class="akn-content"><span class="akn-p">The <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-owner" id="trm78" data-id="trm78">owner</span> of a property where one or more dogs are kept must register the <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm79" data-id="trm79">dog</span> or dogs with the <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-Council" id="trm80" data-id="trm80">Council</span>.</span></span>
    <section class="akn-subsection" id="section-3.2" data-id="section-3.2">
      <span class="akn-num">(2)</span>
      <span class="akn-content"><span class="akn-p">Dog registration must take place within four months of the <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm81" data-id="trm81">dog</span>&#8217;s birth or within 30 days of acquiring a <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm82" data-id="trm82">dog</span> on property within <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-Council" id="trm83" data-id="trm83">Council</span>&#8217;s jurisdictional boundaries.</span></span>
    <section class="akn-subsection" id="section-3.3" data-id="section-3.3">
      <span class="akn-num">(3)</span>
      <span class="akn-content"><span class="akn-p">The <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-Council" id="trm84" data-id="trm84">Council</span> may levy a <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm85" data-id="trm85">dog</span> license fee in respect of a property where one or more dogs are kept.</span></span>
    <section class="akn-subsection" id="section-3.4" data-id="section-3.4">
      <span class="akn-num">(4)</span>
      <span class="akn-content"><span class="akn-p">The amount of the <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm86" data-id="trm86">dog</span> license fee may be determined in terms of a resolution of <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-Council" id="trm87" data-id="trm87">Council</span>. A reduced <span class="akn-term" data-refersTo="#term-dog" id="trm88" data-id="trm88">dog</span> license fee may apply for sterilized dogs.</span></span>

Next steps

  • The Tutorial goes step-by-step through building a Django application that display legislation fetched from the Laws.Africa Content API.

  • Browse the API documentation.


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