In early days, liability in bailment was absolute. The bailee, having been given the position of owner with regard to third parties, was liable to the bailor, and liability in those days meant strict liability. It was no excuse for the bailee to say that the damage or the failure to return was due to no fault of his own; he was liable in any case. The bailee had to safeguard the goods under all circumstances except against Act of God and enemies of the King.
In Southcott v. Bennet , popularly referred to as The Southcote 's case and spoken of as 'the high water mark of the theory of absolute liability ' , where goods were delivered to a bailee for safe custody andt he was robbed of them, the court held him liable, saying "it is a delivery which chargeth him to keep at his peril" , thus showing absolute liability.
Around a hundred years later, in Rex v. Viscount Hertford, this stance(of imposing absolute liability on all bailees) was softened and Pemberton C.J. refused to apply the rule...
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