[Latin, Against the person.] A lawsuit seeking a judgment to be enforceable specifically against an individual person.
An in personam action can affect the defendant's personal rights and interests and substantially all of his or her property. It is based on the authority of the court, or jurisdiction, over the person as an individual rather than jurisdiction over specific property owned by the person. This contrasts with in rem jurisdiction, or actions that are limited to property of the defendant that is within the control of the court. A court with in personam jurisdiction in a particular case has enough power over the defendant and his or her property to grant a judgment affecting the defendant in almost any way.