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General Lien vs. Particular Lien: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 29, 2023
A general lien is a right to retain possession of all property due to debts, while a particular lien pertains only to specific property for specific debts.

Key Differences

General lien and particular lien are two distinct types of liens that are commonly used in legal and financial contexts. A general lien is a right of retention that a creditor has over any and all property of a debtor until a debt is paid, while a particular lien refers to a creditor's right to retain possession of only specific property until the debt associated with that specific property is paid.
In the realm of general lien, the lien is not restricted to a specific item or property but applies to all assets of the debtor that are in the possession of the lien holder. This wide scope contrasts sharply with the particular lien, which is limited to a specific asset or property associated with the debt. For example, a warehouse keeper may have a general lien on all goods stored for a client, whereas a mechanic would have a particular lien only on the vehicle they repaired.
The key distinction lies in the scope of the assets subject to the lien. A general lien gives the lien holder rights over a broader range of assets, offering more security in covering the debt. In contrast, a particular lien is narrowly focused, providing the lien holder rights only over the specific property related to the debt. This difference significantly affects the security and recovery options available to the creditor.
Another notable difference is in the application and enforcement of these liens. General liens are often used in banking and financial sectors where clients may have multiple accounts or assets with an institution. In contrast, particular liens are common in service industries, like auto repair or custom work, where the service is rendered directly to a specific item.
In terms of legal implications, both general and particular liens serve as important tools for creditors. General liens offer broader protection and are typically seen in more complex financial relationships, while particular liens are more straightforward and are often easier to enforce because they are tied to a specific asset. Each type of lien provides a different level of security and operational complexity, underscoring the importance of understanding their distinct legal and practical applications.

Comparison Chart

Scope of Property

Applies to all property and assets of the debtor
Limited to specific property related to the debt

Nature of Debt

Covers a range of debts or obligations
Tied to a specific debt or obligation

Common Usage

Used by financial institutions or for various debts
Common in specific transactions like repair services

Security Extent

Provides broader security for debt repayment
Security only against the specific asset

Transaction Type

Broad, covering multiple debts
Narrow, focusing on a single transaction

General Lien and Particular Lien Definitions

General Lien

A right to retain all properties of a debtor until all debts are cleared.
The bank exercised a general lien due to multiple unpaid loans.

Particular Lien

A lien on a specific asset for a specific obligation.
The particular lien only applied to the artwork for which restoration services were provided.

General Lien

A lien applicable to all assets of a debtor for various debts.
The general lien allowed the creditor to hold all assets as collateral.

Particular Lien

A lien that is limited to the property directly associated with the debt.
The contractor's particular lien was on the renovated property only.

General Lien

A broad claim against all properties of a debtor for debt security.
The company’s general lien covered all assets of the defaulting client.

Particular Lien

A right to hold specific property related to a particular debt.
The mechanic placed a particular lien on the car for unpaid repair bills.

General Lien

A comprehensive lien encompassing all debts of an individual or entity.
Under the general lien, the creditor had rights over the debtor's entire estate.

Particular Lien

A specific lien against an asset for a debt incurred in relation to it.
The particular lien on the boat secured payment for its specific repair costs.

General Lien

A lien providing wide-ranging security over a debtor’s properties.
The general lien was invoked to ensure repayment of the accumulated debts.

Particular Lien

A claim against one specific item for a related debt.
The tailor exercised a particular lien on the suit for unpaid tailoring charges.


Does a general lien cover future debts?

It can, depending on the agreement between the debtor and the creditor.

What is a general lien?

It's a claim against all properties and assets of a debtor until all debts are paid.

What assets can a general lien cover?

It can cover all types of assets owned by the debtor.

In what situations is a particular lien applied?

In specific transactions, like repair services or custom work on a specific item.

How do debtors clear a general lien?

By paying off all the debts covered under the lien.

Can a general lien affect credit scores?

Yes, it can have a significant impact on the debtor’s creditworthiness.

When is a general lien used?

Typically by financial institutions or creditors with multiple debts against a debtor.

Is a particular lien limited to physical goods?

Generally yes, it's tied to the specific physical property serviced or provided for.

What is a particular lien?

It's a claim limited to a specific property related to a specific debt.

Can a particular lien be converted to a general lien?

No, a particular lien remains specific to the transaction it's associated with.

What happens if a debtor can't pay off a particular lien?

The creditor may have the right to sell the specific item to recover the debt.

Can a debtor negotiate the terms of a particular lien?

Yes, terms can sometimes be negotiated before the service or work is provided.

Is consent needed for a particular lien?

Consent is often implicit in the contract or agreement for services or goods provided.

What legal actions can enforce a particular lien?

Legal actions can include seizure or sale of the specific item.

Do general liens require documentation?

Yes, they are usually formalized through legal agreements.

How long does a general lien last?

It lasts until the debts covered by the lien are fully paid.

Can a particular lien be challenged in court?

Yes, if the validity or terms of the lien are disputed.

What types of creditors use general liens?

Typically banks, large financial institutions, or creditors with multiple claims.

Are general liens common in personal finance?

They are more common in business contexts but can apply in personal finance.

Are particular liens used in real estate?

Yes, often for unpaid work on specific properties.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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