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Actionable Claim in TPA

Meaning of Actionable Claim
Meaning of Actionable Claim


Actionable Claim

Sec.3 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 defines actionable claim to be a claim - 

(i) to any debt other than a debt secured by mortgage of immovable property or by hypothecation or pledge of movable property, or 

(ii) to any  beneficial interest in movables not in possession actual or constructive of the claimant, 

(iii) which the Civil Courts recognize as affording grounds for relief, whether such debt or beneficial interest be existent, accruing, conditional or contingent.

In brief, an actionable claim means - 

(i) a claim to an unsecured debt, or 

(ii) a claim to any beneficial interest in movable property not in possession of the claimant. 

An actionable claim, a form of property, possesses characteristics akin to a chose-in-action, recognized in English law. This term denotes personal property not currently possessed by the claimant, necessitating legal action for recovery. Essentially, it embodies rights enforceable through legal action rather than physical possession.

Central to understanding actionable claims is the concept of debt. A debt represents an obligation to pay a definite sum of money, classified as liquidated. Uncertainty regarding the amount renders it non-debt.

Moreover, debts can be future-oriented, conditional (contingent on specific conditions), or contingent (dependent on future events, such as insurance payouts).

However, debts secured by collateral, like immovable property mortgages or movable property pledges, fall outside the actionable claim definition due to their secured nature. This exclusion arises from the assurance provided by the collateral, distinguishing them from unsecured debts.


  1. A owes Rs. 1000 to B. B’s claim is an actionable claim.

  2. A borrows Rs. 1000 from B and mortgages his house to him. The mortgage debt is not an actionable claim.

  3. A contracts to buy goods from B. On the due date. A fails to take delivery and B sells the goods in the open market at a loss of Rs. 1000. B has a right to claim the damages from A but his claim is not an actionable  claim. 

  4. A contracts to sell to B bales of cotton deliverable on a future day. B has a beneficial interest in the goods.

Instances of Actionable Claim

Instances of actionable claims encompass various scenarios where legal rights are enforceable through legal action rather than immediate possession:

  1. Unsecured Debt: Represents a monetary obligation without collateral, subject to legal enforcement for recovery.

  2. Right to Claim Benefit of a Contract for Purchase of Goods: The entitlement to enforce a contract for the acquisition of goods, ensuring fulfilment of contractual terms.

  3. Arrears of Rent: Outstanding rental payments owed by a tenant to a landlord, actionable through legal recourse.

  4. Future Maintenance Allowance: Obligatory payments for sustenance owed in the future, actionable if not fulfilled.

  5. Annuities Under a Deed of Wakf: Regular payments stipulated in a wakf deed, enforceable through legal channels.

  6. Amount in Provident Fund: Funds held for the benefit of a member in a provident fund, accessible through legal action if withheld.

  7. Share in Partnership: Ownership stake in a partnership, including interests in a dissolved partnership, actionable for enforcement.

  8. Claim for Return of Earnest Money: Demand for the return of earnest money deposited in a transaction, actionable if not refunded as agreed.

  9. Vendor's Right to Recover Money from Vendee: The seller's entitlement to reclaim funds left with the buyer, enforceable through legal means.

  10. Money Due under an Insurance Policy: Payment owed under an insurance contract, actionable if not disbursed as per policy terms.

  11. Fixed Deposit in a Bank: Funds deposited in a bank's fixed deposit account, accessible through legal action if not released upon maturity.

  12. Hire-Purchase Agreement: Rights and obligations arising from a hire-purchase contract, enforceable through legal measures to ensure compliance.

Instances of Non-actionable Claim

Instances of non-actionable claims are those where legal rights have already been exercised or where the nature of the claim does not involve the need for legal action to enforce it:

  1. Decreed Debt: A debt that has been adjudicated upon and converted into a court decree is not considered an actionable claim. This is because the legal action has already been taken, and the claim can be enjoyed without further legal intervention.

  2. Right to Recover Damages for Breach of Contract: While breach of contract gives rise to a right to sue for damages, it is not considered an actionable claim. This is because the claimant's interest is limited to seeking compensation for the breach rather than enjoying any specific benefit from the contract itself.

  3. Secured Debt: Debt secured by collateral, such as a mortgage, is not classified as an actionable claim. The security provided by the collateral means that legal action may not be necessary to enforce repayment.

  4. Claim to Mesne Profits: A claim for unascertained future profits, such as those from land, is not considered actionable. This is because the exact amount of the claim cannot be determined until a future date, and legal action may not be required to realise it.

  5. Copyright: While copyright grants exclusive rights to creators, it is not classified as an actionable claim. This is because copyright protection is automatic upon creation and does not require legal action to enforce. However, legal action may be necessary to defend copyright infringement.

These examples illustrate instances where legal action may not be necessary to assert or enjoy certain rights, either because the claim has already been adjudicated upon or because the nature of the claim does not require legal intervention for enforcement.

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