What is Replevin?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2020
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Replevin is a concept in the law which allows people to sue to recover goods which they believe are being wrongfully held. This includes goods which are not released when they should be along with goods in cases in which one party has more of a right to possession than the other. This legal remedy has existed in some form since the 13th century and can be seen in many nations.

In a simple example of how replevin might work, a law enforcement agency might hold personal property past the time when they can legally do so, as for instance if something is confiscated and it is later determined not to be subject to confiscation. The owner of the property can request that the property be returned, and if this is not done, the person can file to replevy the property. A judge will hear the facts of the situation and then issue a judgment which either stipulates that the property must be immediately returned, or that the case does not have merit and the party holding the property is not required to return it.


Replevin can also come up in situations in which storage facilities withhold goods rather than allowing people to claim them and in cases in which creditors take assets to satisfy the terms of a debt. This form of replevin, known as repossession, is legal because once someone defaults on a debt and the debt agreement includes pledged assets, the creditor can argue that it has more of a right to the goods than the person who is currently holding them.

Also known as claim and delivery, replevin can be part of a larger legal suit. People may file suit to regain possession of an object as quickly as possible without forfeiting their right to other suits, such as fair compensation for use of the object while it was illegally held.

The process of seeking this legal remedy is usually relatively simple. A lawyer can assist people with preparing the associated documentation and appearing in court. Lawyers with many different areas of expertise can usually assist with a replevin case and may file such a suit in addition to taking other legal actions on behalf of a client seeking resolution for a legal problem. It is helpful to keep any documentation relating to property one is holding on behalf of someone else so that in the event that this person files suit to replevy it, there is supporting evidence to show that the property is being retained legally.


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