Produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court

The following Commercial practice note produced in partnership with Quentin Tannock of 4 Pump Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Bailment
  • Bailment defined
  • Practical considerations
  • Bailment in commerce
  • Creation of bailment
  • Identifying the bailee
  • Sub-bailment
  • Quasi-bailment
  • Mutuum
  • Obligations arising in bailment
  • More...


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 defined

Bailments 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

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