Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Chose In Action Definition:

A property right in something intangible, or which is not in one's possession, but enforceable through legal or court action.

Related Terms: Personal Property, Intangible Property, Incorporeal, Property

A property right in something intangible (intanglible property), or which may be tangible but are not in one's possession, but  enforceable through legal or court action.

Choses in action are incorporeal, incapable of being grasped and which although of value, may require legal action to convert to cash.

"Like patents, trademarks, and goodwill, wrote Justice Martin Reidinger of the United States District Court in the 2013 decision of Flexible Foam Products, "a chose in action is an intangible asset."

Originally representing a mere right to sue for a debt or for damages, such as a contractual right, the term gradually developed as lawyers and judges, and especially creditors were attracted to incorporeal personal property, increasingly prevalent in a growing commercial world.

Examples may include cash, a right of action in tort or breach of contract, an entitlement to a tax refund, to trust assets, cheques, money, salaries, debts, insurance claims and shares in a company or in a pension.

In Head v City of St. John's, the Justice Mercer of the Newfoundland Supreme Court used these words to describe a chose in action:

"... personal right of property which can only be claimed or enforced by (legal) action, as distinguished from one which is enforceable by the taking of physical possession."

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