Transit In Rem Judicatam Legal Definition:

Latin: The cause of action is changed into matter of record, which is of a higher nature, and the inferior remedy is merged in the higher.

Related Terms: In Rem

In King v. Hoare, Justice Parke explained the principle as follows:

"[T]he judgment is a bar to the original cause of action, because it is thereby reduced to a certainty, and the object of the suit attained.... Hence the legal maxim, transit in rem judicatam, the cause of action is changed into matter of record, which is of a higher nature, and the inferior remedy is merged in the higher."

More recently, in Dassen, Justice O'Leary referred to King v Hoare and transit in rem judicatam in writing:

"The general common law rule is that a judgment against one joint debtor will bar a separate action against other joint debtors, even if the first judgment remains unsatisfied, since the obligation merges in the judgment. A cause of action against several joint debtors merges in a judgment against one of them since the judgment is of a higher nature than a mere cause of action....

"The (transit in rem judicatam) principle does not apply where the judgment is foreign since a foreign judgment is not considered to be of a higher nature than a domestic cause of action."

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