Gratuitous bailment and marriage: The separation of the spouses implies an obligation of surrender?

The case. S.L. granted in gratuitous bailment a property to his future daughter-in-law.

Once the spouses had separated, the plaintiff brought an action demanding the return of such property.

The questions posed by this case are twofold: 1) What type of bailment is being considered in the case at hand? 2)  Does the applicant have the right to request the surrender of the property?

The decision. The Supreme Court held that the contract between the parties is not the so-called precarious bailment provided for under article 1810 of the Italian Civil Code, which obliges the bailee to surrender the property in question upon the owner so demanding.

In the opinion of the Supreme Court judges, the spouses no longer co-habited, and – in the light of the fact that the property had not been assigned by a judge – the purpose for which the bailment had been granted no longer existed.

The bailment of a matrimonial home was, therefore, one of the situations referred to in paragraph 1 of article 1809 of the Italian Civil Code, with the result that the property must be returned once the spouses no longer co-habit and the lawful owner may request the surrender of the former matrimonial home.

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This post is also available in: Italian