As a noun, and taken in an abstract sense, means justice, ethical correctness, or consonance with the rules of law or the principles of morals. In this signification it answers to one meaning of the Latin "jus," and serves to indicate law in the abstract, considered as the foundation of all rights, or the complex of underlying moral principles which impart the character of justice to all positive law, or give it an ethical content. As a noun, and taken in a concrete sense, a power, privilege, faculty, or demand, inherent in one person and incident upon another.
Rights are defined generally as "powers of free action." And the primal rights pertaining to men/ are enjoyed by human beings purely as such, being grounded in personality, and existing antecedently to their recognition by positive law. But leaving the abstract moral sphere, and giving to the term a juristic content, a "right" is well defined as "a capacity residing in one man of controlling, with the assent and assistance of the state, the actions of others."
As an adjective, the term "right" means just, morally correct, consonant with ethical principles or rules of positive law.
It is the opposite of wrong, unjust, illegal. A power, privilege, or immunity guaranteed under a constitution, statutes or decisional laws, or claimed as a result of long usage.
- natural rights.
In a narrower signification, an interest or title in an object of property; a just and legal claim to hold, use, or enjoy it, or to convey or donate it, as he may please. A legally enforceable claim of one person against another, that the other shall do a given act, or shall not do a given act. Restatement of the Law of Property, No. 1.
That which one person ought to have or receive from another, it being withheld from him, or not in his possession. In this sense "right" has the force of "claim," and is properly expressed by the Latin "jus."
- jus
- natural rights
- vested rights.
General Classification
Rights may be described as perfect or imperfect (perfect right
- imperfect right), according as their action or scope is clear, settled, and determinate (clear right, settled right; determinate right), or is vague and unfixed.
Rights are also either in personam or in rem (right in personam; right in rem)
@ right in personam
A right in personam is one which imposes an obligation on a definite person.
@ right in rem
A right in rem is one which imposes an obligation on persons generally; i.e., either on all the world or on all the world except certain determinate persons. Thus, if I am entitled to exclude all persons from a given piece of land, I have a right in rem in respect of that land; and, if there are one or more persons, A., B., and C., whom I am not entitled to exclude from it, my right is still a right in rem.
Rights may also be described as either primary or secondary.
@ primary rights
Primary rights are those which can be created without reference to rights already existing.
@ secondary rights
Secondary rights can only arise for the purpose of protecting or enforcing primary rights.
They are either preventive (protective) or remedial (reparative).
@ preventive or protective secondary rights
@ preventive secondary rights
@ protective secondary rights
Preventive or protective secondary rights exist in order to prevent the infringement or loss of primary rights. They are judicial when they require the assistance of a court of law for their enforcement, and extrajudicial when they are capable of being exercised by the party himself.
Remedial or reparative secondary rights are also either judicial or extrajudicial. They may further be divided into
(1) rights of restitution or restoration, which entitle the person injured to be replaced in his original position;
(2) rights of enforcement, which entitle the person injured to the performance of an act by the person bound; and
(3) rights of satisfaction or compensation.
With respect to the ownership of external objects of property, rights may be classed as absolute and qualified.
@ absolute right
@ qualified right
An absolute right gives to the person in whom it inheres the uncontrolled dominion over the object at all times and for all purposes.
A qualified right gives the possessor a right to the object for certain purposes or under certain circumstances only. Such is the right of a bailee to recover the article bailed when it has been unlawfully taken from him by a stranger
Rights are also either legal or equitable
@ legal right
@ equitable right
@ legal and equitable rights
The former (legal rights) is the case where the person seeking to enforce the right for his own benefit has the legal title and a remedy at law. The latter (equitable rights) are such as are enforceable only in equity; as, at the suit of cestui que trust. Procedurally, under Rules of Civil Procedure, both legal and equitable rights are enforced in the same court under a single cause of action.
+ legal right
Natural rights, rights existing as result of contract, and rights created or recognized by law. Fine v. Pratt, Tex.Civ.App., 150 S.W.2d 308, 311
+ equitable right
Right cognizable within court of equity as contrasted with legal right enforced in court of law; though under rules practice in most states and in the federal courts there has been a merger procedurally between actions at law and equity. Fed.R. Civil P. 2
@ constitutional rights
There is also a classification of rights, with respect to the constitution of civil society. Thus, according to Blackstone, "the rights of persons, considered in their natural capacities, are of two sorts,-absolute and relative; absolute, which are such as appertain and belong to particular men, merely as individuals or single persons; relative, which are incident to them as members of society, and standing in various relations to each other." 1 BLComm. 123.
Rights are also classified in constitutional law as natural, civil, and political (natural right, civil right, political right), to which there is sometimes added the class of "personal rights"
@ natural rights
Natural rights are those which grow out of the nature of man and depend upon personality, as distinguished from such as are created by law and depend upon civilized society; or they are those which are plainly assured by natural law; or those which, by fair deduction from the present physical, moral, social, and religious characteristics of man, he must be invested with, and which he ought to have realized for him in a jural society, in order to fulfill the ends to which his nature calls him. Such are the rights of life, liberty, privacy, and good reputation.
+ natural rights
Those which grow out of nature of man and depend upon his personality and are distinguished from those which are created by positive laws enacted by a duly constituted government to create an orderly civilized society. In re Gogabashvele's Estate, 195 Cal. App.2d 503, 16 Cal.Rptr. 77, 91
@ civil rights
Civil rights are such as belong to every citizen of the state or country, or, in a wider sense, to all its inhabitants, and are not connected with the organization or administration of government. They include the rights of property, marriage, equal protection of the laws, freedom of contract, trial by jury, etc. Or, as otherwise defined, civil rights are rights appertaining to a person by virtue of his citizenship in a state or community. Such term may also refer, in its very general sense, to rights capable of being enforced or redressed in a civil action.
Also, a term applied to certain rights secured to citizens of the United States by the Thirteenth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and by various acts of Congress (e.g. Civil Rights Acts) made in pursuance thereof.
@ political rights
Political rights consist in the power to participate, directly or indirectly, in the establishment or administration of government, such as the right of citizenship, that of suffrage, the right to hold public office, and the right of petition.
+ political rights
Those which may be exercised in the formation or administration of the government. Rights of citizens established or recognized by constitutions which give them the power to participate directly or indirectly in the establishment or administration of government
@ personal rights
Personal rights is a term of rather vague import, but generally it may be said to mean the right of personal security, comprising those of life, limb, body, health, reputation, and the right of personal liberty.
Other Compound and Descriptive Terms
@ common right
Right derivative from common law. Strother v. Lucas, 37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 410, 437, 9 L.Ed. 1137.
Right peculiar to certain people is not a common right. Perdue v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of City of Norwalk, 118 Conn. 174, 171 A. 26, 28
A term applied to rights, privileges, and immunities appertaining to and enjoyed by all citizens equally and in common, and which have their foundation in the common law
@ declaration of rights.
@ marital rights
@ mere right
In the law of real estate, the mere right of property in land; the right of a proprietor, but without possession or even the right of possession; the abstract right of property.
+ mere right
The mere right of property in land; the jus proprietatis, without either possession or even the right of possession. The abstract right of property
@ patent right
See patent
@ petition of right.
@ private rights
Those rights which appertain to a particular individual or individuals, and relate either to the person, or to personal or real property
@ right in personam
A right in personam is one which imposes an obligation on a definite person.
- right in rem
- right heir (heir)
- riparian rights (riparian)
- stock rights (stock)
@ right and wrong test
Under this test of criminal responsibility, if, at the time of committing an act, the party was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality thereof, that he did not know that he was doing what was wrong, he should not be held criminally responsible for his act. State v. Wallace, 170 Or. 60, 131 P.2d 222, 229, 230.
See insanity with respect to other criminal responsibility defenses.
@ right in action
This is a phrase frequently used in place of chose in action, and having an identical meaning
@ right in court
@ right of action
The right to bring suit; a legal right to maintain an action, growing out of a given transaction or state of facts and based thereon.
Right of action pertains to remedy and relief through judicial procedure. Landry v. Acme Flour Mills Co., 202 Okl. 170, 211 P.2d 512, 515.
Right of injured one to secure redress for violation of his rights. Fields v. Synthetic Ropes, Inc., 9 Storey 135, 215 A.2d 427, 432.
A right presently to enforce a cause of action by suit. McMahon v. U. S., C.A.Pa., 186 F.2d 227, 230.
Operative facts giving rise to a right of action comprise a "cause of action." Shiflet v. Eller, 228 Va. 115, 319 S.E.2d 750, 754
@ right of contribution
@ right of entry
The right of taking or resuming possession of land by entering on it in a peaceable manner
@ right of first refusal
Right to meet terms of proposed contract before it is executed; e.g. right to have first opportunity to purchase real estate when such becomes available, or right to meet any other offer. The holder of such a right has the option to purchase the grantor's real estate on the terms and conditions of sale contained in a bona fide offer by a third party to purchase such real estate, provided it is an offer that the grantor is otherwise willing to accept.
See also option
@ right of local self-government
Power of citizens to govern themselves, as to matters purely local in nature, through officers of their own selection. City of Ardmore v. Excise Board of Carter County, 155 Okl. 126, 8 P.2d 2, 11.
@ right of possession
Right which may reside in one man while another has the actual possession, being the right to enter and turn out such actual occupant; e.g., the right of a disseisee; right of ejectment or eviction. An apparent right of possession is one which may be defeated by a better right; an actual right of possession is one which will stand the test against all opponents.
See also repossession
@ right of property
The mere right of property in land; the abstract right which remains to the owner after he has lost the right of possession, and to recover which the writ of right was given. United with possession, and the right of possession, this right constitutes a complete title to lands, tenements, and hereditaments
@ right of publicity
The right of individual, especially public figure or celebrity, to control commercial value and exploitation of his name or picture or likeness or to prevent others from unfairly appropriating that value for their commercial benefit. Presley's Estate v. Russen, D.C.N.J., 513 F.Supp. 1339, 1353
@ right of redemption
The right to disencumber property or to free it from a claim or lien; specifically, the right (granted by statute only) to free property from the encumbrance of a foreclosure or other judicial sale, or to recover the title passing thereby, by paying what is due, with interest, costs, etc.
Not to be confounded with the "equity of redemption," which exists independently of statute but must be exercised before sale.
See also redemption
@ right of subrogation
The right of a person to substitute one person in the place of another, giving the substituted party the same legal rights that the original party had
@ right of survivorship
The right of survivor of a deceased person to the property of said deceased. A distinguishing characteristic of a joint tenancy relationship. Upon the death of any joint tenant, the deceased tenant's interest passes, not to the tenant's lawfully designated beneficiaries or heirs, but to the surviving joint tenants.
See also tenancy (joint tenancy
- tenancy by the entirety)
@ right of way
Term used to describe a right belonging to a party to pass over land of another, but it is also used to describe that strip of land upon which railroad companies construct their road bed, and, when so used, the term refers to the land itself, not the right of passage over it. Bouche v. Wagner, 206 Or. 621, 293 P.2d 203, 209.
As used with reference to right to pass over another's land, it is only an easement; and grantee acquires only right to a reasonable and usual enjoyment thereof with owner of soil retaining rights and benefits of ownership consistent with the easement. Minneapolis Athletic Club v. Cohler, 287 Minn. 254,177 N.W.2d 786, 789.
See also easement
"Right of way" is also used to refer to a preference of one of two vehicles, or as between a vehicle and a pedestrian, asserting right of passage at the same place and tune, but it is not an absolute right in the sense that possessor thereof is relieved from duty of exercising due care for his own safety and that of others. Cheramie v. Scott, Tex.Civ.App., 324 S.W.2d 87, 90.
With respect to intersections, the term has been described as the right of one driver to cross before the other; and it has been defined by statute as the right of a vehicle to proceed uninterruptedly in a lawful manner in the direction in which it is moving in preference to another vehicle approaching from a different direction into its path.
The "right-of-way rule" is simply a rule of precedence as to which of two users of intersecting highways shall have the immediate right of crossing first at an intersection where the users simultaneously approach the intersection on the intersecting streets so nearly at the same time and at such rates of speed that, if they proceed without regard to each other, a collision or interference between them is reasonably to be apprehended
@ right patent
An old English writ, which was brought for lands and tenements, and not for an advowson, or common, and lay only for an estate in fee-simple, and not for him who had a lesser estate; as tenant in tail, tenant in frank marriage, or tenant for life
@ rights offering
The sale of new shares of common stock by distributing stock purchase rights to a firm's existing shareholders. This is also termed a privileged subscription.
See also rights, stock rights
- petition of rights (petition)
@ rights, stock
Short term options to purchase shares from an issuer at a fixed price. Rights are often issued as a substitute for a dividend or as a "sweetener" in connection with the issuance of senior or debt securities

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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