Right in Rem and Right in Personam

Right in rem And Right in Personam

This article is written by El-varith Fahad.AP , student of Markaz law college at Knowledge city, Calicut, kerala. This article shortly sheds light on concept of right in rem and right in personam.


According to law, it is a bundle of rules and principles which regulate the individual’s behavior in society.  Law puts forward some rights as well as duties to be strictly followed by everyone who is under its government . There are various kinds of rights such as natural rights, moral rights, legal rights and so on. As a citizen of a country, he is bound to be under certain duties and is given some legal rights. Those legal rights of citizens will be protected from being infringed by another and does not allow anyone to interfere with other’s right. A right of an individual comes to an end at the extend where the other person’s right is infringed as it is because every right is not absolutely and it definitely should be subject to some restrictions. So It is the duty of every citizen to value other’s rights and be alert for not be cause to curtail others rights.

In general, legal right means that any action which is recognized and approved in the perspective of law. A plethora of jurists defined the legal right with various measurements from the different ankles. broadly , legal rights can be classified into two,  right in rem and right in personam.  The term right in rem is a right available to a person against the public at large and right in personom is right against individuals.

In general, legal right means any action which is recognized and approved in the perspective of law. Many jurists defined the legal right with different kinds of criteria. There are five essential conditions in order for a legal right to be formed in the view of Salmond.


Legal right broadly can be classified into two, one of both is right in rem and another is right in personam. As per the law of land, every person entering into a contract, has right in rem. The term Right in rem is derived from the latin term Action in rem.  According to the term right in rem, it means that a right available to a person against the public at large. It bestows an absolute protection of a persons property from being attacked by anyone. This term points out a fact that no one has right to interfere with others property.

Law does not permit anyone to interfere with others right as it is protected from being violated by anyone. It is the duty upon every person not to violate the legal rights of others.

This is why, it is called as negative right. It means that no one can curtail the legal right of other. In another words none should cause to infringe the right of other in any way.


Mr.A owns a land , this land is exclusively belongs to him. In this case, he has right in rem in respect of the land against the public at large. Law protects his legal right of not entering stranger to property exclusively belonging to him. So nobody can enter into that land without his permission.

Right in personam

Right in personam is one of the kind of legal right guaranteed by law. It is derived from the latin term action in personam. It is more or less, different from term right in rem. It can be defined as a right available against individuals with whom he started the contractual obligation.

Right in personam gives the person rights against specific party to contract.

This right is given under indian contract act 1872 to the parties to the contract. It can only be used against individusals with whom he has contractual obligation. No other third party can interfere with matter of this contract as it does not affect them.


Mr. A signs a contract for the purchase of a Land belonging to B. Then the contractual obligation stands only between both parties and A can file suit only against B in case of any breach of contract.

Right in rem Is Negative

According to right in rem , it is always negative and it is a right to be alone. This denotes a right that people have no any legal right to interfere with my ownership. Law draws a prohibited line towards everyone not to be overtaken the rights of other. This line surely protects the right of a person from being violated by another, to some extent. For instance, A should not enter to the land belonging to B, illegally as law ensures the protection of B from being infringed by anyone in the world. If anyone violates the right of a person or interferes with right vested in him, it is said to be violation of right in rem.  Here he has a right against the public at large that  for not interfering with his right.it is reason for that rights in rem are considered as real rights.

Right in Personam is positive

Right in personam is always positive. Indian contract act provides a right which on a single person or party to the contract. This right is especially available against individuals only who infringe the legal right. It will generally correspond with a duty imposed on the said person or property to contract. So the parties to the contract have contractual rights only against each other. For instance, A purchases a Alto car belonging to B, for 2 lakh rupees, here B has right against A to get agreed sale amount and no other party can involve in their contract. If any one of the parties to the contract breaches his duty imposed upon him, the aggrieved party can suit only against the said party, not other strangers to the concerned contract. There is a Doctrine of privity in the case of contract. This doctrine sheds light on some facts that no other party can interfere with the concerned contract as much as the parties to the contract cannot sue against stranger to the contract, but only against the said person. The law persuades the both party to fulfill the obligations vested upon them. If any one of the parties fails to perform properly , the aggrieved party can claim the remedies as per the case may be.  It is the reason for that right in personam is personal right.

Right in rem in Law of Tort

Law of tort is violation of right in rem. Tort, in common law, a civil wrong for which the remedy is unliquidated. It mainly deals with the situations where a persons behavior unfairly caused to suffer loss or harm. Law of tort grants right in rem to those whose legal rights have been infringed. It is the right available against the whole world at large. The law protects the legal right of a person from being infringed by another illegally and the law never permits anyone to interfere with the right of another unlawfully. Those rights will be definitely saved by all means. Therefore, if anyone commits any types of tort, it is said to be violation of right in rem. As a result, the aggrieved party can consult the civil court and claim the compensation in the form of money.

Right in personam in Law of Contract.

Law of contract is a right in personam. It is the duty on the party to the contract to fulfill the agreement made with other party. unlike the right in rem, This right is available against the individual who entered into this contract. The party to the contract cannot claim the right against anyone other than the other party to the same contract. Its because doctrine of privity exists in the case of contract and as a result of that, no third party can interfere with material fact of the contract. So right in personam means that it is a right which is only against the other party of the concerned contract. If any one of the parties fails to perform the duty upon him, the aggrieved party can sue only against the said party who entering into the same contract. Strangers to the same contract will not be responsible for the the damage suffered by the aggrieved party. The responsibility vested on the party who caused the damage.

Remedies in tort

According to tort, it is defined as civil wrong for which the remedy is unliquidated damages for common law action. The term ‘unliquidated damages’ means not-preplanned or previously decided. It is an amount fixed by courts of law. When a right of person is violated, there arises the legal remedy which more or less helps the aggrieved person to be taken back to the position that he was enjoying before his right is violated. A legal remedy is remedy of the aggrieved party whose right is infringed. There are different types of legal remedies available at the time of commission of tort.it can be broadly divisible into two such as Judicial remedies and Extra judicial remedies. Judicial remedies are the remedies which the courts of law provide to the party who suffered the loss or whose right is violated by another without any lawful justification. Extra judicial remedies mean that when the injured party takes the law into his hand. Here the aggrieved party does not consult the court in order to get the remedies, but it is who takes the law into his hand .

Remedies in Contract

Like in torts, there are various types of remedies available in contract. Remedies arise in contract when there is breach of contract. A contract is said to be breached when the party to the contract fails or refuses to perform his obligation. Therefore, as soon as one party commits a breach of the contract, the law grants to the party generally three remedies. The aggrieved party may seek to obtain [1] damages for the loss sustained, or [2] decree for specific performance, or [3] an injunction.

Land mark case law

Booz allen and Hamilton inc. v. SBI Home Finance Limited and others

The Booz Allen Hamilton case explicitly indicates the different between right in rem and right in personam. The court upheld that the right in rem is a right exercisable against the world at large. The court further found that no one can enter into the legal right of another. Whereas incase of rights in personam, an interest is protected against a specific individual.


According to right in rem, it is a right available to person against the whole world. As per the law of land, it provides entirely protection of legal rights of any person who is subject to the same law, from being infringed by anyone without lawful justification. On the other hand, right in personam is right that is available only against the party who entered into the contract. In the case of violation of right in personam, the aggrieved party cannot sue against the party other than one who entered into the same contract.





Author: FAHAD Ap,
Markaz law college, At Knowledge city

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