in rem

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Related to Jurisdiction in rem: in personam

In Rem

[Latin, In the thing itself.] A lawsuit against an item of property, not against a person (in personam).

An action in rem is a proceeding that takes no notice of the owner of the property but determines rights in the property that are conclusive against all the world. For example, an action to determine whether certain property illegally imported into the United States ought to be forfeited can be captioned United States v. Thirty-nine Thousand One Hundred and Fifty Cigars. The object of the lawsuit is to determine the disposition of the property, regardless of who the owner is or who else might have an interest in it. Interested parties might appear and make out a case one way or another, but the action is in rem, against the things.

In rem lawsuits can be brought against the property of debtors in order to collect what is owed, and they are begun for the partition of real property, foreclosure of mortgages, and the enforcement of liens. They may be directed against real or Personal Property. In rem actions are permitted only when the court has control of the property or where its authority extends to cover it. For example, the courts in Kansas may determine rights to a farm in Kansas, but not the ownership of a cannery in Texas. The in rem jurisdiction of a court may be exercised only after parties who are known to have an interest in the property are notified of the proceedings and have been given a chance to present their claim to the court.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

in rem

adj. from the Latin "against or about a thing," referring to a lawsuit or other legal action directed toward property, rather than toward a particular person. Thus, if title to property is the issue, the action is "in rem." The term is important since the location of the property determines which court has jurisdiction, and enforcement of a judgment must be upon the property and does not follow a person. "In rem" is different from "in personam," which is directed toward a particular person. (See: in personam)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

in rem

‘against a thing’ (as opposed to against a person).
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

IN REM, remedies. This technical term is used to designate proceedings or actions instituted against the thing, in contradistinction to personal actions which are said to be in personam. Proceedings in rem include not only judgments of property as forfeited, or as prize in the admiralty, or the English exchequer, but also the decisions of other courts upon the personal status, or relations of the party, such as marriage, divorce, bastardy, settlement, or the like. 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 525, 541.
     2. Courts of admiralty enforce the performance of a contract by seizing into their custody the very subject of hypothecation; for in these case's the parties are not personally bound, and the proceedings are confined to the thing in specie. Bro. Civ. and Adm. Law, 98; and see 2 Gall. R. 200; 3 T. R. 269, 270.
     3. There are cases, however, where the remedy is either in personam or in rem. Seamen, for example, may proceed against the ship or cargo for their wages, and this is the most expeditious mode; or they may proceed against the master or owners. 4 Burr. 1944; 2 Bro. C. & A. Law, 396. Vide, generally, 1 Phil. Ev. 254; 1 Stark. Ev. 228; Dane's Ab. h.t.; Serg. Const. Law, 202, 203, 212.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
(124) While it has yet to be authoritatively determined that provincial superior courts possess jurisdiction in rem over maritime claims, Chief Justice Ritchie of the Supreme Court of Canada has held that such courts are "bound to take cognizance of and execute all laws, whether enacted by the Dominion Parliament or the Local Legislatures, provided always, such laws are within the scope of their respective legislative powers." (125) On the other hand, a constitutionally valid federal law that confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal Court over a particular matter would have the effect of denying that same jurisdiction to superior courts, even if the matter otherwise fell within their general jurisdiction.
(163) Where, on the other hand, the claim is one that falls within any one of the remaining paragraphs mentioned in subsection 43(3), and subject to the so-called "sister ship" rule in subsection 43(8), jurisdiction in rem may be exercised only if "at the time of commencement of the action, the ship, aircraft or other property that is the subject of the action is beneficially owned by the person who was the beneficial owner at the time when the cause of action arose." (164) By satisfying these conditions, a plaintiff may proceed in the court to recover the claim against the res or its proceeds in an action in rem.
Wisconsin's statute states that jurisdiction in rem or quasi-in-rem extends only to real or personal property located within the state at the time of commencement of the in rem or quasi-in-rem action.