Also known as ‘claim and delivery’ replevin is a tortious action at common law for the recovery of goods wrongfully detained or taken.
Replevin seeks the return of the actual thing itself, as opposed to damages to the value of the item. Replevin does not address title disputes, and is sought separately to a legal judgment on title.
Replevin was described by John Fleming in The Law of Torts:
“From medieval times, there has also come down to us a summary process, known as replevin, by which a man out of whose possession goods have been taken may obtain their return until the right to the goods can be determined by a court of law. Replevin arose out of the need of a turbulent society to discourage resort to self-help and although for a long time primarily used in disputes about distress between landlord and tenant, it was gradually expanded to cover all cases of allegedly wrongful dispossession. If the plaintiff wanted return of his chattel in specie, replevin was a more appropriate remedy than either trespass or trover in which only damages could be recovered. Restoration of the property is, of course, only provisional, pending determination of title.”