Against a thing
In rem is a legal term defining the authority, a court can exercise over the property (either actual or personal) or a “status” against an individual over whom the court has no jurisdiction in personam. The jurisdiction in rem means that the property or status is the primary objective of the litigation, rather than personal liability not actually associated to the property.
In general, in rem refers to a lawsuit or other legal action directed towards a property, rather than toward a particular person. The term is important since the location of the property determines which court has jurisdiction and enforcement of a judgment must be upon the property and does not follow a person. ‘In rem’ is different from ‘in personam,’ which is directed toward a particular person.
An action in rem is a proceeding that takes no notice of the owner of the property but determines rights in the property that are conclusive against all the world. The object of in-rem proceedings is to determine the disposition of the property, regardless of who the owner is or who else might have an interest in it. Interested parties might make out a case, but the action is in rem, against the things i.e. the property.
If title to a property is the issue before the court, the action is said to be ‘in rem’. In-rem jurisdiction refers to the power of a court over an item of real or personal property. In the case of property, in-rem jurisdiction is based on the location of the property and enforcement follows property rather than a person.
In British Shipping Laws, Volume 14, it was referred that “Although the point is not free of uncertainty it is probably the case that a maritime lien is a substantive right whereas a statutory right of action in rem is in essence a procedural remedy. The object behind the availability of a statutory right of action in rem is to enable a claimant to found jurisdiction and to provide the res as security for the claim.”
In R. Viswanathan vs Rukn-Ul-Mulk Syed Abdul Wajid, it was held that “Roman lawyers recognized a right either as jus in rem or jus in personam. According to its literal meaning in rem is right in respect of a thing, us in personam is a right against or in respect of a person. In modern legal terminology, a right in rem postulates a duty to recognize the right imposed upon all persons generally, a right in personam postulates a duty imposed upon a determinate person or class of persons.