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Bailment is a legal relationship in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-use ...
, where the owner transfers physical possession of
personal property Personal property is property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing. In the context of this article, it is one or ...
("chattel") for a time, but retains ownership. The owner giving up custody is the "bailor" and person who takes is "bailee". The bailee holds the personal property in trust for a specific purpose and delivers the property back to the bailor when the purpose is accomplished.


General

Bailment is distinguished from a contract of sale or a
gift A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of ...

gift
of property, as it only involves the transfer of possession and not its
ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or with something, whether as an attribute or as a component of said thing ...
. To create a bailment, the bailee must both intend to possess, and actually physically possess, the bailable chattel. Although a bailment relationship is ordinarily created by contract, there are circumstances where lawful possession by the bailee creates a bailment relationship without an ordinary contract, such as an involuntary bailment. A bailment relationship between the bailor and bailee is generally less formal than a fiduciary relationship. In addition, unlike a
lease A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the Lessor (leasing), lessor (owner) for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial or business equipment is also leas ...

lease
or rental, where ownership remains with the lessor but the lessee is allowed to use the property, the bailee is generally not entitled to the use of the property while it is in his possession. However, a lease of personal property is the same as a bailment for hire, where the bailee gains the right to use the property. A common example of bailment is leaving one's car with a
valet A valet or varlet is a male servant who serves as personal attendant to his employer. In the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It began with the fall ...

valet
. Leaving a car in an unattended
parking garage A multistorey car park ( British and Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign state, sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equato ...

parking garage
, however, is typically a
lease A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the Lessor (leasing), lessor (owner) for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial or business equipment is also leas ...

lease
or
license A license (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English ...

license
of a parking space rather than a bailment, as the garage does not take possession of (i.e. exercise dominion or control over) the car. However, bailments arise in many other situations, including terminated leases of property, warehousing (including store-it-yourself), or in carriage of goods.


Governing law

In the United States, bailments are frequently governed by statute. For example, the UCC regulates personal property leases. State bailment for hire statutes may also regulate the rights and duties of parties in the bailment relationship. Bailment is a typical common law concept, although similar concepts exists in civil law.


Purposes

There are three types of bailments, based on the purpose of the relationship: #for the benefit of the bailor and bailee #for the sole benefit of the bailor; and #for the sole benefit of the bailee. ;Examples A bailment for the mutual benefit of the parties is created when there is an exchange of performances between the parties (e.g. a bailment for the repair of an item when the owner is paying to have the repair accomplished). A bailor receives the sole benefit from a bailment when a bailee acts gratuitously (e.g. the owner leaves the precious item such as a car or a piece of jewelry in the safekeeping of a trusted friend while the owner is traveling abroad without any agreement to compensate the friend). A bailment is created for the sole benefit of the bailee when a bailor acts gratuitously (e.g., the loan of a book to a patron, the bailee, from a library, the bailor).


Damages

Plaintiffs will be able to sue for damages based on the duty of care. Often this will be normal
tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. It can include intentional inflict ...

tort
damages. Plaintiff may elect also to sue for
conversion Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Conversion (Doctor Who audio), "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ''Cyberman'' * Conversion (Stargate Atlantis), "Conversion" (''Stargate Atlantis ...
, either in the
replevin Replevin () or claim and delivery (sometimes called revendication) is a legal remedy A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdict ...
or
trover Trover () is a form of lawsuit in common-law countries for recovery of damages for wrongful taking of personal property. Trover belongs to a series of remedies for such wrongful taking, its distinctive feature being recovery only for the value ...
, although these are generally considered older, common law damages.


Terms

Bailment can arise in a number of situations, and is often described by the type of relationship that gave rise to the bailment. Several common distinctions are: * For
consideration Consideration is a concept of English common law and is a necessity for simple contracts but not for special contracts (contracts by deed In common law, a deed (anciently "an evidence") is any legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a l ...
vs. gratuitous. If a person agrees to accept a fee or other good consideration for holding possession of goods, they are generally held to a higher
standard of care Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag) In heraldry Heraldry () is a broad term, encompassing the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such ...
than a person who is doing so without being paid (or receives no benefit). Consider a paid coat-check counter versus a free coat-hook by the front door, and the respective obligations of the bailee. Some establishments even post signs to the effect that "no bailment" is created by leaving your personal possessions in their care, but local laws may prevent unfair enforcement of such terms (especially attended car parks). * Fixed term vs. indefinite term. A bailor who leaves property for a fixed term may be deemed to have abandoned the property if it is not removed at the end of the term, or it may convert to an involuntary bailment for a reasonable time (e.g., abandoned property in a bank safe, eventually
escheat Escheat is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law ...
s to the state, and the treasurer may hold it for some period, awaiting the owner). However, if there is no clear term of bailment agreed upon, the goods cannot be considered abandoned unless the bailee is given notice that the bailor wishes to give up possession of the goods. Frequently, in the case of storage of goods, the bailee also acquires a contractual or statutory right to dispose of the goods to satisfy overdue rent; a lawful conversion of bailed goods.(sic)


Cases

*''
Coggs v Bernard ''Coggs v Bernard'' (1703) 2 Ld Raym 909 (also ''Coggs v Barnard'') is a landmark case both for English property law English property law refers to the law of acquisition, sharing and protection of valuable assets in England England is a ...
'' (1703)


See also

*
Bail Bail is a set of pre-trial restrictions that are imposed on a suspect to ensure that they will not hamper the judicial process. Bail is the conditional release of a defendant A defendant is a person A person (plural people or persons) is ...
* Interest in securities *
Trover Trover () is a form of lawsuit in common-law countries for recovery of damages for wrongful taking of personal property. Trover belongs to a series of remedies for such wrongful taking, its distinctive feature being recovery only for the value ...
*
Replevin Replevin () or claim and delivery (sometimes called revendication) is a legal remedy A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdict ...


References


External links

{{EB1911 poster, Bailment
The Free Dictionary
Personal property law