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[Latin, Against the person.] A lawsuit seeking a judgment to be enforceable specifically against an individual person.
An in personam action can affect the defendant's personal rights and interests and substantially all of his or her property. It is based on the authority of the court, or jurisdiction, over the person as an individual rather than jurisdiction over specific property owned by the person. This contrasts with in rem jurisdiction, or actions that are limited to property of the defendant that is within the control of the court. A court with in personam jurisdiction in a particular case has enough power over the defendant and his or her property to grant a judgment affecting the defendant in almost any way.
adj. (in purr-soh-nam) from Latin for "directed toward a particular person." In a lawsuit in which the case is against a specific individual, that person must be served with a summons and complaint to give the court jurisdiction to try the case, and the judgment applies to that person and is called an "in personam judgment." In personam is distinguished from in rem, which applies to property or "all the world" instead of a specific person. This technical distinction is important to determine where to file a lawsuit and how to serve a defendant. "In personam" and means that a judgment can be enforceable against the person wherever he is. On the other hand, if the lawsuit is to determine title to property (in rem) then the action must be filed where the property exists and is only enforceable there. (See: jurisdiction, in rem)
in personam‘personal’ (as opposed to REAL).
IN PERSONAM, remedies. A remedy in personam, is one where the proceedings are against the person, in contradistinction to those which are against specific things, or in rem. (q.v.) 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 2646.