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Legal Dictionary

lien

Legal Definition of lien

Noun

  1. A property right which remains attached to an object that has been sold, but not totally paid for, until complete payment has been made. It may involve possession of the object until the debt is paid or it may be registered against the object (especially if the object is real estate). Ultimately, a lien can be enforced by a court sale of the property to which it attached and then the debt is paid off from the proceeds of the sale.

Definition of lien

Etymology

    From Middle French lien, from Latin ligāmen (“a bond”), from ligō (“tie, bind”).

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /liːn/, /lɪən/
  • Homophone: lean (IPA: /liːn/)

Noun

lien (plural liens)

  1. (law) A legal claim; a charge upon real or personal property for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.

Derived terms

Further reading

In law, a lien (UK: /ˈliːən/; US: /ˈliːn/) is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. The owner of the property, who grants the lien, is referred to as the lienor and the person who has the benefit of the lien is referred to as the lienee.

The etymological root is Anglo-French lien, loyen "bond", "restraint", from Latin ligamen, from ligare "to bind".

In the United States, the term lien generally refers to a wide range of encumbrances and would include other forms of mortgage or charge. In the USA, a lien characteristically refers to non-possessory security interests).

In other common law countries, the term lien refers to a very specific type of security interest, being a passive right to retain (but not sell) property until the debt or other obligation is discharged. In contrast to the usage of the term in the USA, in other countries it refers to a purely possessory form of security interest; indeed, when possession of the property is lost, the lien is released. However, common-law countries also recognize a slightly anomalous form of security interest called an "equitable lien" which arises in certain rare instances.

Despite their differences in terminology and application, there are a number of similarities between liens in the USA and elsewhere in the common-law world.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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