Classification / Kinds of legal rights



There can be no duty without a right. Rights are important for each and every individual to lead a normal life. Legal right is different from a moral or natural right as it is recognized and protected by the state whereas, a moral right is not recognized or protected by law. The court can enforce legal rights against any person or persons and even against the government.


A legal right is an interest which is secured and protected by law. According to T E Holland, A legal right is a capacity residing in one man of controlling with the assent and assistance of the State the actions of others. Right is an inherent characteristic of human will. An infringement of legal right is punishable by law. Legal rights are available to all citizens irrespective of caste, gender, etc.


  • Person of inherence: He is the subject of right. A legal right is vested in a person who is the owner of the right, the subject of it or the person of inherence. Therefore, there cannot be a legal right without a subject or a person of inherence.
  • Person of incidence: A legal right avails against a person upon whom lies the co-relative duty. The person whose duty is to act or forbear for the benefit of the subject of the right.
  • Content of the right: The act or omission which is obligatory on the person bound in favour of the person entitled. This is called the content or substance of right.
  • Subject matter of right: It is something to which the act or omission relates and it is the main objective over which the right is availed.
  • Title of the right: Title is the process by which the right is vested or conferred on a person.

These elements can be explained with an illustration. Suppose a testator gives a gold ring to a beneficiary. Here, the beneficiary is the subject or owner of the right; the gold ring is the object of the right; the delivery of the ring is the content of the right; the executor is the person of incidence and the will through which the ring is given is the title of the right.


There are certain rights which the individual has got against the government and other individuals. These are called fundamental rights and they are different from legal rights. Fundamental rights cannot be taken away by the government. Fundamental rights are listed out in part III of the constitution of India. The basic difference between fundamental rights and legal rights is that the former cannot be taken away by any law or ordinance whereas it can be taken away in case of the latter.


The legal rights are classified as under:

Perfect and Imperfect Rights:

A perfect right is that right which corresponds to a perfect duty. It is recognized as well as enforced by law. Whereas, an imperfect right is the one which is recognized but is not enforceable by law. The rights of the subjects against the state are can also be classified as imperfect rights as they cannot be enforced. At times a imperfect right can be converted into a perfect right. Where a bond is unstamped, it creates an imperfect right which is not enforceable by law. But after the payment of a penalty, it becomes a perfect right which is enforceable by law.

Positive and Negative Rights:

Rights are classified as positive and negative on the basis of its nature. A positive right corresponds to a positive duty and a negative right corresponds to a negative duty. A positive right is a right to be positively benefited but a negative right is merely a right, not to be harmed.

Antecedent and Remedial Rights:

An Antecedent Right is the one which exists irrespective of any wrong having been committed. For example a purchaser of certain goods has the antecedent right over those goods. On the other hand, a right which arises when an antecedent right is violated is known as remedial right. It normally involves a compensation given by a way of relief for the violation of an antecedent right.

Real and Personal Rights:

It is a right that is available against the whole world. It corresponds to a duty that is imposed upon the people in general. A Tort or a Crime is a real right.
Personal right is a type of right that is available against a particular person. It arises out of contractual obligation. Breach of contract is a good example of a personal right.

Rights in re propria and rights in re aliena:

Right in pre propria in its literal sense means right over one’s own property and right in aliena means a right over someone else’s property.

Principal and Accessory Rights:

The existence of Principle Rights are independent of any other rights but Accessory Rights are ancillary to principal rights and also have a beneficial effect on the principal right. For example, if a debt is secured by mortgage, the recovery of that debt is the principal right and the security will be the accessory right.

Public and Private Rights:

Those rights which are vested in a person by the government or constitution are called Public Rights. Right to vote is an example of a public right.

Private Rights are those which are connected with individuals. For example a contract made between two people gives rise to certain rights and these are private rights.

Vested and Contingent Rights:

A vested right accrues when all the facts have occurred which must by law occur in order that a person in question would have the right. In case of contingent rights, only certain events which are necessary to vest the right in the contingent owner have happened. A vested right creates an immediate interest whereas a contingent interest does not and it can be defeated when the required facts have not occurred.


In a nutshell, legal rights are those rights which are conferred by the state on the individuals and also impose certain duties that have to be performed by the individuals. It is enforceable by the state as it is an interest recognized and protected by a rule or justice. It is classified into various kinds according to the nature of the rights.


Author: Ronald Philips,
4th year BA LLB

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