In Personam Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of In Personam, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is In Personam?

It refers to the judgement of the lawsuit against a person and its assets and not anything else like absolute property or things. It’s a latin term meaning “Against a person”. When in a lawsuit the judge passes a judgement against a particular person, it is not mandatory for the person to be present there though court summons him/her to be there. The judgement is enforceable wherever the person is. This is known as in personam action. It differs from “in rem” where the judgement is against the property and the court has the jurisdiction at the place of the property only.

History and Meaning of In Personam

In personam is a Latin term that translates to "against the person." In the legal context, it describes a type of lawsuit in which a judgment is made against a particular individual and their assets or obligations. The term has a long history in common law jurisdictions and is still commonly used in modern legal proceedings.

In personam actions are usually brought when one party has a claim against another party or individual. These types of lawsuits are typically used in civil disputes or to enforce contractual agreements. In these cases, the court can issue a variety of remedies, such as monetary damages or specific performance of a contract, against the individual rather than just their property.

Examples of In Personam

  1. A plaintiff brings an in personam action against a defendant for breach of contract, seeking monetary damages from the defendant's personal assets.
  2. A court makes an in personam judgment against an individual for unpaid child support payments, allowing the plaintiff to enforce the judgment against the individual's wages and other personal assets.
  3. A creditor obtains an in personam judgment against a debtor for an unpaid debt, allowing them to seize the debtor's personal assets to satisfy the debt.

Legal Terms Similar to In Personam

  1. In Rem - A lawsuit against property rather than an individual.
  2. Quasi In Rem - A lawsuit in which a judgment is made against specific property owned by an individual but not necessarily against the individual themselves.
  3. Ex Parte - A legal proceeding conducted in the absence of the opposing party.