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A 'bailment' is defined as a non-ownership transfer of possession. Under English common law, the right to possess a thing is separate and distinct from owning the thing. Interestingly, as a result of this distinction, in some jurisdictions, an owner of an object can steal their own property. In context, an owner who lends someone else an article, then secretly takes it back, can be stealing.

When a bailment is created, the article is said to have been 'bailed'. One who delivers the article is theĀ bailor. One who receives a 'bailed' article is theĀ bailee.

See e.g., Mack v. Davidson 391 N.Y.S.2d 497 (1977)

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]