Definition - What does Bailment mean?

Bailment is a legal arrangement in which one person gives something to someone else for a specific reason and length of time. While possession changes, ownership does not.

In most but not all cases, the property is returned to the owner once the objective has been achieved. The property isn't returned if the owner transfers possession of the item(s) with the expectation that someone else will get rid of it, or in cases where the owner hasn't paid for the services rendered.

Justipedia explains Bailment

Many people routinely engage in bailments without realizing that they are doing so. That's because there is no written contract in many cases. Instead, there is a mutual understanding or an "implied contract." A significant part of this understanding is that the item that the owner gives to someone else will be in the same (or better) condition when it is returned.

One example of a bailment is a situation in which someone leaves a watch at a jewelry shop for repairs. Another example is one in which someone leaves their vehicle and keys with a parking valet at a restaurant.

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