This article defines and explains two different rights – Right in Rem and Right in Personam. The terms “Right in Rem” and “Right in Personam” are derived from the Latin terms “action in rem” and “action in personam,” respectively. Let us understand their meaning below.
Definition of Right
Austin: An individual’s privilege is a prerogative granted by a specific statute and used against another person or persons. (Prerogative means a right or privilege exclusive to a particular individual or class.)
Holland: A legal right is the capacity a person possesses to govern the activities of others with the approval and aid of the state.
Right in Rem or Jus in Rem
Anyone signing a contract possesses rights in Rem or intangible rights. They have this right against the whole globe. Basically, it prevents a person’s stuff from being stolen by anyone in the universe.
As a result, we refer to this type of right as a negative one. For the simple reason that it provides everyone with the right to be alone. This means that no one else has the right to meddle with the right(s) of a person. These are rights residing in individuals and can be availed against the other parties.
Right in Personam or Jus in Personam
Right in Personam is the polar opposite of Right in Rem. Right in Personam confers legal rights on a single person or party to a contract. It usually corresponds to a responsibility placed on the mentioned person or group.
Difference Between Right in Rem and Right in Personam
Rights in Rem: These are real rights.
Rights in Personam: These are personal rights.
Rights in Rem: These rights are available against common/globe.
Rights in Personam: These rights are available against a particular party.
One right is the subject matter of another right.
Rights in Rem: This is the subject matter of right in personam.
Rights in Personam: This is the subject matter of right in rem.
Example: Right of Shyam after he signs a contract with Ram for a piece of land purchase is right in personam. Whereas after execution of sale deed the right will be right in rem available against the whole world.
Rights in Rem: No relationship is established.
Rights in Personam: Relationship is established.
Rights in Rem: These are negative rights.
Rights in Personam: These are positive rights.
Rights in Rem: These are general rights.
Rights in Personam: These are special rights.
Examples of Right in Rem
1. X purchased a car. X has the Right in Rem with respect to the car. No party can disturb the Right in Rem of X.
2. Y gifted a landed (landed means owning much land, especially through inheritance) property to his son Z. Z has Right in Rem with respect to the gifted property.
Examples of Right in Personam
1. A sold his house to B for Rs. 25 lakhs. Hence, A’s right to receive the sale amount from B is A’s personal right and no other party is involved. Hence this is Right in Personam.
2. B rented his farmhouse to C for a monthly rent of Rs. 5000. Hence, B’s right to collect rent from C is his personal right, and no other party is involved. Hence, this is Right in Personam.
R Viswanathan vs Syed Abdul Wajid
A right was recognised by Roman lawyers as either Jus in Rem or Jus in Personam. Jus in Rem is a right in respect of a thing, and Jus in Personam is a right against or in respect of a person, according to its literal meaning. A Right in Rem presupposes a duty to recognise the right imposed on all people in general. In contrast, a Right in Personam presupposes a duty imposed on a specific person or class of persons.
MV Elisabeth vs Harwan Investment
Plaintiff’s established claim is the full amount of the defendant’s liability in personam action. An acknowledgement of service in a real estate auction can also lead to full liability, even when the judgement exceeds the property value or bail provided.
Or, in other words, in an admiralty suit in personam, the defendant is liable for the entire amount of the plaintiff’s substantiated claim. Similarly, even if the amount of the judgement exceeds the value of the res (thing), a defendant recognising service in an action in rem risks being held fully accountable.