A party may have a claim in bailment whenever he has a superior right to the possession of goods which are in the possession of another.
For a claim of bailment, the bailor of goods need not be the general owner so long as he has a right of possession superior to that of the current possessor. The bailor needs to show that he has title to the goods, or a right to their possession against the current possessor. This will be sufficient for the claim of bailment despite the fact that the party entitled to possess did not have possession of the goods before their delivery to the bailee. Similarly, where a carrier delegates performance of the contract of carriage to a sub-carrier while retaining a right to possession of the goods against the sub-carrier, the sub-carrier is a sub-bailee and is stopped under common law from denying the first carrier's title. The first carrier may recover damages from the sub-carrier for breach of the sub-bailment even if the first carrier's personal loss is nominal. In general circumstances, and subject to the terms of the particular contract, the bailment to a carrier may be a bailment at will.
This Practice Note provides an introduction to bailment, which is a large and complex topic.This Practice Note provides a working definition of bailment and practical tips. It discusses modern commercial bailment, how bailment is created, the bailor and bailee and obligations arising between them. Bailment under contract is outlined, together with limitation of liability and incorporation of terms in bailment contracts. Bailments arising in hire purchase agreements, pawn and pledge arrangements, the hospitality industry and international transport are briefly discussed. Non-contractual bailment is introduced and issues with mistaken deliveries and uncollected goods are outlined. Bailment disputes, remedies and actions against third parties are introduced. Tips in relation to pleading bailment are provided.Bailment definedBailments can arise in a very wide range of circumstances, making a precise definition of what constitutes bailment, and a comprehensive classification of types of bailment, difficult. Simplistically, possession (or custody) of goods is a form of interest in or rights over goods, which can be distinguished from the ownership of goods. A bailment arises when a ‘bailee’ takes voluntarily possession of goods belonging to another, gaining possessory rights and related obligations in relation to the goods, but not gaining ownership of the goods (or an immediate reversionary interest in the goods). It follows that any transfer of both possession and ownership is not a bailment.Bailment gives rise to mutual rights and
Art law—bailment Issues relating to bailment can arise in art contexts. For example, a warehouse or shipping company may owe bailment duties when storing and/or transporting chattels or artworks. Loans and/or the use of artworks as security or collateral may give rise to bailments. Frequently, claims which are rooted in breach of contract and/or negligence will also plead bailment. Further examples are included throughout this Practice Note. Bailment is a complex area. This Practice Note focuses on bailment issues as they relate to art law. For a detailed overview of the law of bailment generally, see Practice Note: Bailment. For a summary of relevant aspects of art law relevant to Private Client practitioners, see Practice Note: Art law—introduction for Private Client practitioners. What is bailment? In simple terms, a bailment can arise in common law when one party takes temporary possession of a second party’s goods, eg: • a collector, known as the bailor, gives an artwork or chattel to a second party, the ‘bailee’ • the bailee takes voluntarily possession of the artwork • by taking possession, the bailee thereby gains possessory rights together with related obligations in relation to the artwork • the bailee does not gain ownership of the artwork (or an immediate reversionary interest in the artwork) The principles of the law of bailment were usefully summarised in Yearworth and Others v North Bristol NHS Trust at paragraph 48:
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128. Bailee's liability. The bailee's failure to discharge his obligations1 renders him liable to be sued in tort for negligence, or in an independent claim for breach of bailment, if that failure causes damage to the bailor. In addition, as in the case of a depositary, he is responsible to the bailor for the loss of or any damage to the chattel entrusted to him arising out of any breach of duty on his part in respect of its safe custody2.Moreover, the acceptance of the bailment of the chattel by the bailee may constitute a sufficient entering
Claim in bailment is referenced 4 in Halsbury's Laws of England
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