Most lawsuits are personal in nature, reflecting claims brought against individuals or legal entities such as corporations, limited liability companies and the like (all of which are considered legal “persons”). Such personal claims are referred to as in personam actions. There is another form of action, however, known as an in rem action. These cases are not personal in nature and are not brought against a person. Literally translated, the phrase “in rem” means “against the thing” whereas “in personam” means “against the person”. A good example of an in rem action is an action to quiet title on real property. The action is brought against the property to establish or clarify ownership or other rights in the property. Contrast this with an action against an individual for trespassing on the property, which is in personam.
– Kevin Palmer