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A bailment is a transaction where the owner of goods (the 'bailor' ) hands over goods to another (the 'bailee' ) but without passing over the title (rights of ownership).

Examples include:

  • Handing a car over to the valet or a mechanic.
  • Handing clothes over for dry cleaning.
  • Hire purchase agreements (where title is only transferred after the last installment).
  • Sales of goods subject to Retention of title clauses.

Though the bailee does not acquire the bailor’s title (does not become the owner of the chattel), he does acquire a right to possession, and is thus protected by the property torts.

Bailments and the rights of the bailor/bailee to bring actions in property torts are discussed in The Winkfield.

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