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Bailments

( Originally Published 1918 )



Definition.—Bailment is a delivery of goods or money by one person to another in trust, for some special purpose, upon a contract, expressed or implied, that the trust shall be faithfully executed.

Names of Parties.—The owner of the goods bailed is termed the bailor, and the person to whom they are delivered or bailed, the bailee.

The Responsibility of Bailees is governed by the consideration whether, in the case of the thing bailed, they have been guilty of ordinary neglect, gross neglect, or slight neglect. Ordinarily neglect is the omission of that care which every man of common prudence takes of his own concerns. Gross neglect is want of that care which every man of common sense, how inattentive so-ever, takes of his own property. Slight neglect is the omission of that diligence which every circumspect and thoughtful person uses in securing his own goods and chattels.

The Rules Governing the law of bailments are : 1. A bailee who derives no benefit from his under-taking is responsible only for gross neglect, or, in other words, for a violation of good faith. 2. A bailee who alone receives benefit from the bailment, is responsible for slight neglect. 3. When the bailment is beneficial to both parties the bailee must answer for ordinary neglect. 4. A special agreement of any bailee to answer for more or less, is in general valid. 5. All bailees are answerable for actual fraud, even though the contrary be stipulated. 6. No bailee is chargeable for a loss by inevitable accident, except by special agreement.

A Borrower for Use is responsible for slight negligence.

A Pawnee is answerable for ordinary neglect.

A Depositary, one who receives goods or money to be kept for the bailee without a recompense, is responsible only for gross neglect.

A Carrier of goods or money without reward is responsible only for gross neglect, or breach of good faith.

A Private Carrier for hire, by land or water, is answerable for ordinary neglect.

The Hirer of a Thing is answerable for ordinary neglect.

A Workman for Hire must answer for ordinary neglect of the goods intrusted to him, and apply a degree of skill equal to his undertaking.

All Bailees Become Responsible for losses by casualty or violence, after their refusal to return the things bailed, on a lawful demand.

Borrowers and Hirers are answerable in all events, if they keep the things borrowed or hired after the stipulated time, or use them differently from their agreement.

Depositaries and Pawnees are answerable, in all events, if they use the things deposited or pawned.

Innkeepers: An innkeeper is responsible for the acts of his domestics, and for thefts, and is bound to take all possible care of the goods of his guests. He is regarded as an insurer, responsible for any injury or loss, not caused by the act of God, the common enemy, or neglect or fault of the owner. When, however, a guest has the exclusive keeping and occupancy of a room, the innkeeper is not liable, nor where the guest takes upon himself the care of the goods, or neglects to use ordinary caution.

Warehousemen are bound only to take reasonable and ordinary care of the goods deposited with them. Thus, they would not be liable for thefts, or for loss or injuries caused by rats, unless occasioned by their want of proper care, etc. Their liability commences as soon as the goods arrive and the crane of the warehouse is used to hoist them in, and it terminates the moment they leave his premises. The warehouseman's liability is usually fixed or limited by receipts which they give for the goods deposited, and which pass from hand to hand by assignment. See Warehousing.

Wharfingers.—A wharfinger is one who keeps a wharf for the purpose of receiving goods on hire. His responsibility is similar to that of a warehouseman.



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