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Contract Of Bailment and Pledge

Explore this blog to gain insights into the special contracts governed by the Indian Contract Act of 1872, focusing on the agreements of bailment and pledges.

Contract Of Bailment and Pledge: Overview

The Indian Contract Act of 1872 establishes a comprehensive framework governing diverse legal relationships, placing particular emphasis on contracts involving bailment and pledge. Within the legal realm, these terms hold unique significance, each carrying specific meanings and consequences. This article provides a detailed exploration of Bailment and Pledge, elucidating their definitions, applications, and the regulatory stipulations outlined in the Indian Contract Act.

Let’s explore the intricacies of these concepts to gain a nuanced understanding of how they intricately shape the landscape of contractual agreements in India.

Essential Features of the Contract of Bailment

Bailment is a legal relationship that arises when one person (the bailor) transfers possession of tangible personal property to another person (the bailee) for a specific purpose or duration. In a bailment arrangement, ownership of the property remains with the bailor, while the bailee is entrusted with the temporary possession and control of the goods.

Key features of a bailment contract include

Valid Contract

Bailment, being a type of contract, necessitates adherence to fundamental contract elements such as offer, consideration, contractual capacity, and intent.

The presence of these elements is crucial for the enforceability of the bailment contract in a court of law.

Notably, a bailment contract can be valid even without consideration.

Classification of Bailment

 Gratuitous Bailment: Bailment without consideration.

 Non-Gratuitous Bailment: Bailment with consideration.

Delivery of Possession

Section 149 of the Act emphasizes that delivery to the bailee can be achieved through actions placing the goods in the possession of the intended bailee or an authorized representative.

Delivery is contingent upon a contractual agreement between the bailor and the bailee, whether expressed or implied.

Exception: Recovered Lost Goods

If a third party discovers lost goods, they assume the role of bailee for such items.

Responsibilities include safeguarding the goods, refraining from personal use, making efforts to locate the true owner, and ensuring prompt transfer to the rightful owner.

The finder is entitled to reimbursement for incurred expenses and efforts.

For perishable goods, sale is permissible if the owner cannot be found, with proceeds remitted to the owner/bailor (Section 169).


Goods must be transferred from bailor to bailee for a specified purpose.

Contract cancellation is possible if the bailee acts inconsistently or makes unauthorized use of the goods (Sections 153 and 154).

Return of Goods

After fulfilling the purpose, the bailee must return the goods to the bailor.

Section 160 stipulates that the bailee is obligated to return or deliver the bailed items per the bailor’s instructions, without demand, upon completion of the agreed-upon time or purpose.

Duties of the Bailor

Disclosure of Faults in Goods

The bailor must inform the bailee of any defects in the bailed items, especially if they materially affect their use.

If the bailor fails to disclose flaws that endanger the bailee, they are liable for any resulting losses.

Goods Bailed for Hire

Regardless of the bailor’s awareness, if there is damage to goods bailed for hire, the bailor is held responsible for it.

Duties of Bailee

Exercise Reasonable Care

The bailee is obliged to care for the bailed items as if they were his own, being accountable for theft only when present, and exonerated if he can prove reasonableness.

Unauthorized Use

 If the bailee uses the bailed items in violation of the bailment terms, he is liable to the bailor for resulting losses.

 The bailee is permitted to use the bailed items only for their specified purpose.

Termination of Bailment

  If the bailee breaches the bailment terms, the bailor can void the contract regarding the bailed goods.

Non-Mixing of Goods

 The bailee must keep his property separate from the bailor’s and cannot mix items without permission.

 In case of consent, both parties have interests in their respective portions.

 Without consent, if goods can separate, the bailee covers separation costs and losses.

 Without consent and impossibility of separation, the bailee compensates the bailor for the loss.

What is a Pledge?

Pledge, a legal concept falling under the broader category of bailment, is a distinctive arrangement where the execution of a promise or the bailment of goods serves as security for the repayment of a debt. In simpler terms, when someone borrows money or takes a loan, they may offer certain valuable goods or assets as collateral to secure the debt. This act of offering goods as security is what constitutes a pledge.

Essential Characteristics of Pledge

Key Characteristics of Pledge

Possession Delivery

Pledged goods must be under the possession of the Pawnee (lender). While the pledgor (borrower) may retain custody for specific reasons, it doesn’t affect the pledge’s validity.

Contractual Pledge

Pledge operates as a transfer as per the contract terms. Goods must be delivered by the pawnor (borrower) to the Pawnee under the contract, though the loan and delivery need not occur simultaneously.

Rights Of The Pawnor

The rights of the pawnor, as delineated in Section 177 of the Indian Contract Act (ICA), bestow a distinctive authority concerning the redemption of pledged goods. Delving into these rights reveals a nuanced understanding:

Redemption Flexibility: Section 177 empowers the pawnor with the right to redeem pledged goods. This entitlement remains valid even if default occurs in payment or performance within the stipulated timeframe.

Post-Default Redemption: The pawnor retains the prerogative to redeem goods at any point before their actual sale, offering a post-default redemption window. However, this hinges on the promptness of action, as it necessitates clearing any incurred expenses resulting from the initial default.

Temporal Constraints: The redemption window extends until the actual sale of the pledged goods. Once the goods are sold, the pawnor’s right to redeem is extinguished. This temporal constraint underscores the critical importance of timely action in reclaiming the pledged assets.

Rights Of Pawnee

Understanding the rights conferred upon the pawnee under the Indian Contract Act (ICA) sheds light on the complexities and safeguards within the pledge relationship. The rights of the pawnee, as outlined in various sections of the ICA, encompass a range of prerogatives:

Right of Retainer: Section 173 of the ICA vests the pawnee with the right of retainer. This extends beyond merely covering the debt or promise; the pawnee can retain the goods pledged for the interest of the debt and all essential expenses related to possession or goods preservation. This right elevates the pawnee’s interest in the pledged goods to a distinctive level.

Right of Retainer for Subsequent Advances: Section 174 delineates the conditions under which the pawnee can retain goods pledged for subsequent advances. In the absence of a specific contract, the pawnee is limited to retaining goods for the initial debt or promise. However, a presumed contract allows retention for subsequent advances unless stated otherwise.

Right to Extraordinary Expenses: Section 175 entitles the pawnee to reimbursement for extraordinary expenses incurred in preserving the pledged goods. This provision underscores the fair compensation due to the pawnee for efforts dedicated to maintaining the quality and condition of the collateral.

Pawnee’s Right in Default Scenarios: Section 176 addresses scenarios where the pawnor defaults. The pawnee holds the authority to either sue the pawnor for the debt, retaining the goods as collateral, or sell the pledged items after providing reasonable notice. The proceeds from the sale, whether surplus or deficient, come with corresponding implications for both parties.


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What do you mean by contract of bailment and pledge?

A contract of bailment involves delivering goods temporarily, with the recipient obligated to return them. Pledge, a subset of bailment, entails transferring possession of goods as security for a debt. Both involve the transfer of possession, but pledge adds a financial dimension through collateral.

What is pledge and its essentials?

Pledge is a legal arrangement where a borrower provides a lender with collateral, securing a debt. Essentials include the delivery of possession, a valid debt, and the intention to create a security interest. It safeguards the lender's interest and ensures the borrower's commitment to repayment.

What is the contract of pledge?

The contract of pledge outlines the terms of a secured transaction, where a borrower (pledgor) offers collateral to a lender (pledgee). This agreement ensures that if the borrower defaults, the lender can sell the pledged assets to recover the debt, providing a legal framework for secured transactions.

What is the function of pledge?

Pledge serves a dual function by securing a debt and providing recourse for lenders in case of default. It instils confidence in lenders, encouraging financial transactions. The pledged assets act as a safeguard, ensuring the borrower's commitment to meeting their financial obligations.

What is a bailment contract?

A bailment contract refers to a legal agreement where one party temporarily transfers possession of goods to another, with an obligation to return the goods. This contractual relationship encompasses various scenarios, from safekeeping to repair, emphasising the responsibility and care owed by the bailee to the bailor.

What is the difference between a pledge and a lien?

While both pledge and lien involve a security interest in property, the key distinction lies in possession. In a pledge, possession is transferred to the creditor, securing a debt. In a lien, the creditor retains possession, using the property as collateral but without physical control.

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