in personam

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In personam, literally translating to “against the person,” refers to courts' power to adjudicate matters directed against a party. In personam jurisdiction is one of the two forms of personal jurisdiction with the other being in-rem jurisdiction.

A court may exercise in personam jurisdiction over a person who resides in, maintains connections with, or is served notice of legal proceedings in that court’s area of territorial jurisdiction.

  • For example, a Delaware district court has in personam jurisdiction over citizens of Delaware, companies which do business in Delaware, and people who are served while visiting Delaware on vacation.
    • Additionally, a Delaware district court can exercise in personam jurisdiction over any person who consents to the exercise of it, regardless of if they fall into the three categories above.

In personam judgments allow for a wide range of judicial remedies can be enforced against the person in jurisdictions other than the jurisdiction which gave the judgment due to the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

[Last updated in January of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]