Legal Definition of Thing

By this word is understood every object, except man, which may become an active subject of right.3 min read

Definitions of "Thing"

  1. Obs. The assembly of free-men and/or barons of Sweden.
  2. By this word is understood every object, except man, which may become an active subject of right. In this sense it is opposed, in the language of the law, to the word persons.

Categories of Things

Things, by the common law, are divided into:

  1. Things real, which are such as are permanent, fixed and immovable, and which cannot be carried from place to place; they are usually said to consist in lands, tenements and hereditaments.
  2. Things personal, include all sorts of things movable which attend a man's person wherever he goes. Things personal include not only things movable, but also something more, the whole of which is generally comprehended under the name of chattels. Chattels are distinguished into two kinds, namely, chattels real and chattels personal.

It is proper to remark that sometimes it depends upon the destination of certain objects, whether they are to be considered personal or real property.

Formerly, in England, a very low and contemptuous opinion was entertained of personal property, which was regarded as only a transient commodity. But of late years different ideas have been entertained of it; and the courts, both in that country, and in this, now regard a man's personal property in a light, nearly, if not quite equal to his realty; and have adopted a more enlarged and still Iess technical mode of considering the one than the other, frequently drawn from the rules which they found already established by the Roman law, wherever those rules appear to be well-grounded and apposite to the case in question, but principally from reason and convenience, adapted to the circumstances of the times.

By the Roman or civil law, things are either in patrimonio, capable of being possessed by single persons exclusive of others; or extra patrimonium, incapable of being so possessed.

Things In Patrimonio

Things in patrimonio are divided into corporeal and incorporeal, and the corporeal again into movable and immovable.

Corporeal things are those which are visible and tangible, as lands, houses, horses, jewels, and the like; incorporeal are not the object of sensation, but are the creatures of the mind, being rights issuing out of a thing corporeal, or concerning or exercisable within the same; as, an obligation, a hypothecation, a servitude, and, in general, that which consists only in a certain right.