In law, a charge or encumbrance on property for the satisfaction of a debt or other duty. Common law developed two kinds of possessory lien: the specific (a lien on the specific property involved in a transaction) and the general (a lien for the satisfaction of a balance due, not confined to a specific property involved in a transaction). Courts of equity may, through the device of the equitable lien, recognize a creditor's interest in a debtor's property. Statutory liens are also available; developers and building contractors, for example, may use their interest in an improved site as security for payment (a mechanic's lien).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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