action in rem – wherein the named defendant is real or personal property, to determine who owns the title, and who has rights in such property

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help >>>> § 5 Commence a Civil Action to Enforce, Redress, or Protect a Private or Civil Right >>>> Action (Suit) in Equity:


in rem:
[Latin “against a thing”] (18c)

1. Involving or determining the status of a thing, and therefore the rights of persons generally with respect to that thing. — aka (archaically) impersonal. — in rem, adv. [1]

1. (Latin) Means “in the thing.”  [2]

action in rem:

1. An action determining the title to property and the rights of the parties, not merely among themselves, but also against all persons at any time claiming an interest in that property; a real action.

2. Louisiana law. An action brought for the protection of possession, ownership, or other real rights in immovable property La. Civ. Code arts. 3651 et seq.

3. Louisiana law. An action for the recovery of possession of immovable property.  La. Civ. Code art. 526. — aka (in Roman law) actio in rem; actio realis; real action. See IN REM. Pl. actiones m rem.

4. An action in which the named defendant is real or personal property. [1]

in rem action:

1. A legal action brought against property (EXAMPLES: an action to quiet title; a civil forfeiture), as opposed to an action brought against the person.  An EXAMPLE of the caption or heading of an action in rem brought by the government might be: United States v A Parcel of Land Known as 123 Main Street, Middleboro, Ohio

Compare in personam action. Also compare quasi in rem action. See judgment in rem; jurisdiction in rem. [2]

1. In the more strict sense of the term, a proceeding to determine the right in specific property, against all the world, equally binding on everyone, but taking no cognizance of the owner or person with a beneficial interest, being against the thing or property itself directly, and having for its object the disposition of the property without reference to the title of individual claimants.  1 Am 12d Actions § 40.

Most clearly illustrated by the proceeding against a vessel in a court of admiralty.  Am 12d Adm §§ 93, 94.

Inclusive in the broad sense of actions quasi in rem.  See quasi in rem action. [3]

     Excerpt from R.H. Graveson’s Conflict of Laws (7th ed. 1974):

     “An action in rem is one in which the judgment of the court determines the title to property and the rights of the parties, not merely as between themselves, but also as against all persons at any time dealing with them or with the property upon which the court had adjudicated. [4]

Also see in rem jurisdiction.

Types of In Rem Actions:

action to quiet title – to establish a plaintiff’s title to land by compelling the adverse claimant to establish a claim or be forever estopped from asserting it.

action quasi in rem – brought against a person, the objective being to deal with the particular property or to subject the property to the discharge of the claims asserted.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]: R.H. Graveson, Conflict of Laws 98 (7th ed. 1974).


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