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The History of Bailments


THE HISTORY OF BAILMENTS. Bailments were of little importance in the early history of the common law, as real estate was then the only im portant kind of property, personalty being of little sig nificance. Over ninety per centum of the cases which came before the early English courts related to realty. With the progress of civilization, invention and ma chinery, personal property has become more and more important, until to-day, personalty, and contracts re lating thereto, have become the leading concern of the courts.

The corner stone and leading case in bailment law is that of Coggs v. Bernard, 2 Lord Raymond, 9o9, de cided by the English court in 17-03. The decision in this case is practically an essay on the subject of bail ments. The question which came before the court was whether the defendant, who had undertaken to remove several casks of wine from one cellar to another with out compensation for the work, was liable to the plain tiff for doing the work so carelessly that one of the casks was broken and the contents lost. The court found the defendant liable for the damages, and laid down the principle which has ever since governed in bail ment law: that Where one undertakes to perform a ser vice upon goods, though without compensation, he is liable for doing the work so negligently that injury re sults. That is, as stated, "If a man undertakes to carry goods safely and securely he is responsible for any damage they may sustain in the carriage through his neglect, though he was not a common carrier and was not to have anything for the carriage." (Idem.)

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