This article is written by Anshika Agrawal @ LEXCLIQ on the topic Bailment.
Bailment is a delivery of goods by bailor to bailee for a definite purpose on condition of their return or disposal, when purpose is accomplished.
Section 148 to 171 of the Indian Contract Act 1872 contain the provision relating to contract of bailment. It is derived from the French word “bailler” which means “to deliver”. Historically, it means any kind of “handling over”. In legal sense, it involves change of possession of goods from one place to another for some specific purpose.
Halsbury’s Laws of England defines bailment as “A delivery of personal chattels on trust, usually on a contract, express or implied, that the trust shall be duly executed, and the chattels redelivered either in their original or an altered form as soon the time or use for, or the condition on which they were bailed shall have elapsed or been performed.”
Section 148 defines Bailment as:
A “bailment” is the delivery of goods by one person to another for some purpose, upon a contract that they shall, when the purpose is accomplished, be returned or otherwise disposed of according to the directions of the person delivering them.
The person delivering the goods is called the “bailor”. The person to whom they are delivered is called the “bailee”.
Going by the text of the definition, it appears that a person who is already in possession of goods may become a bailee only by entering into a contract with the bailor. However that is always not necessarily the case that possession of the goods is delivered to the bailee. When the goods have not been delivered by way of bailment, a person who is already in possession of the goods may contract to hold them as bailee. In bailment, temporary possession of the bailed goods is transferred. There is neither transfer of property nor the ownership of the goods. Ownership of such goods remains with the bailor.
Essential Features of Bailment includes-
Specific Movable Property
Delivery upon Contract
Delivery of Possession
Delivery for a purpose and Return of Goods
Duties of Bailor- –To put bailee onto Possession (Section 149) – To disclose material faults (Section 150) Liabilities of Bailor- –To pay expenses of Bailment (Section 158) –To pay damages for defects in bailor’s title (Section 164) –To indemnify gratuitous bailee (Section 159) –To pay damages for non-disclosure of material defects (Section 150) Rights of Bailor- –To claim return of goods or their loss (Sections 159, 160, 161) –To claim proportionate share in mixed goods (Section 155) –To claim return damages due to mixing up of goods (Sections 156, 157) –To claim damages if bailee makes wrongful use (Section 154) Duties of Bailee- –Not to make wrongful use of goods (Section 154) –To take prudent man’s care (Section 151) –To return bailed goods (Sections 159, 160) –Not to mix up bailed goods with his own (Sections 156, 157) Liabilities of Bailee- –To pay damages: (a) For failure to take prudent man’s care (Section 152) (b) For wrongful use of bailed goods (Section 154) (c) Arising due to mixing up of goods (Sections 156, 157) (d) For non-return of goods (Section 161) –To return bailed goods (Sections 159, 160) –To pay any increase or profits accruing from the goods (Section 163) Rights of Bailee- –To claim possession of goods (Section 149) –To know material faults in goods (Section 150) –To claim proportionate share in mixed goods (Section 155) –To claim damages due to defect in bailor’s title or faults in goods (Section 150, 164) –To claim expenses of bailment (Section 158) –To claim indemnity (Section 159) –To claim lien for remuneration (Sections 170, 171)