3 min read
11 Mar

What is bail? What is bailment? It is important to distinguish between BAIL and BAILMENT. Bailment concerns civil law and pertains largely to your obligations with reference to goods in your possession that are owned by someone else.

Bail  is related to criminal law. A person is arrested and jailed awaiting a trial date on the charges. The person arrested may be released subject to certain conditions (and if the accused agrees the release is on consent). If the Crown prosecutor believes the person should be held in jail awaiting a trial or the accused does not agree to the conditions, then a show cause hearing is held. The prosecutor shows cause as to why the person should remain in jail. This is a bail hearing. The concerns for release usually centre around the accused committing anther criminal offence or being a risk to public safety or fleeing the country. Conditions commonly imposed are keeping the peace (do not commit crimes), curfews, avoiding contact with certain people including the complainant, restrictions on places to go to, and promises not to use alcohol or drugs, and to appear in court as required. A release (pending trial) may be based on the accused’s undertaking or recognizance – essentially a promise. But a recognizance may come with a financial penalty if breached. A surety (someone with ability to pay if there is a breach) may be required. (Note that it is the USA that bail (release) commonly involves a large up front cash deposit.) This is a broad incomplete overview of bail in Canada. Anyone charged with a criminal offence should consult a lawyer experienced in such matters.

Below, BAILMENT in our civil law is canvassed.


  • Fair or not, you may have to care for another’s property in certain circumstances even if it causes you inconvenience. This is the law of bailment.
  • For example, if someone forgetfully leaves a valuable in your apartment or house, you cannot unilaterally make it your property. Similarity, if a bank mistakenly deposits funds into your account, you cannot appropriate them to yourself.
  • Much of the law of bailment is now set out in statutes and the legislation sets out the standard of care. Where legislation does not apply, the common law standard is now “take reasonable care in the circumstances”.
  • The standard of care is set out in legislation for warehousers (that store furnishings) and hoteliers or innkeepers (that provide sleeping accommodations, food, and drink) and public motor vehicle carriers. In Ontario, as it relates to “general freight”. Following the Uniform Conditions of Carriage, “the carrier of the goods is liable for any loss of or damage to goods accepted by the carrier or the carrier’s agent” with some exceptions: Carriage of Goods, O Reg 643/05.
  • The exact terms of a bailment may be set out in some detail in a contract as it is in a rental car agreement which expands on 4 basics: payment, limits on use, taking reasonable care, and returning the chattel.

A full chapter on bailment appears in Canadian Law and Business Studies. Have a look inside this book for law information on  bailment and 20 other law topics: https://bit.ly/3Ay0lSR

Current Related Caselaw

Parking-lot law  involves the law of bailment, the law of contract, and the law of trespass: Graham v. Impark, 2010 ONSC 4982 (CanLII). 

But in the following BC case, since there was no claim of any damage to a vehicle or a lack of proper care by the parking lot owner, bailment law did not apply: Golden v. AAA Brian’s Towing Ltd., 2022 BCCRT 1205 (CanLII).

In the following case, basic principles of bailment were re-stated and applied; namely: 

A bailment is a temporary transfer of property, where the personal property of one person, a “bailor”, is handed over to another person, a “bailee”. 

A bailment can exist independently of a contract, but in this dispute both a bailment and contractual relationship existed between the parties:  Chahal v. Blacklab computers Ltd., 2022 BCCRT 1186 (CanLII).

Caution: Legal information is not legal advice.

This website merely provides a general guide to the subject matter. Copyright protected.

New and interesting information will be periodically added on this topic.

Please visit us at our alternate website: https://www.fera-gasparini.ca/ and also to have a quick look inside our new book on Canadian Law and Business Studies: https://bit.ly/3Ay0lSR.

This book contains a full chapter on "Bailment Law".

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