Latin

The meaning of the word ‘lien’ derives from the Latin ‘ligae’ to bind. Basically, a lien is a right to obtain possession of another’s property pending discharge of a debt. The salient feature of a possessory lien is, possession of the property of the debtor by the holder of the lien. A possessory lien is a right to retain that which is in the possession of the person claiming the lien until a claim is satisfied. For the creation of this lien possession is essential and must be: Rightful. Not for a particular purpose and In Hatton v Car Maintenance Co. Ltd. (1915) H, the owner of a motor-car agreed with a company that they would maintain and garage her car for three years on being paid an annual sum by H. H was entitled to take the car out of the company’s garage as and when she liked. The annual payment being in arrear the company detained the car in the garage and claimed a lien. It was held, as H was entitled to take the car away as and when she pleased (i.e. the possession was not continuous), the company had no lien. A possessory lien may be general or particular. A general lien is a right to retain possession of the goods of another until all claims against that other have been satisfied. It may arise by a) a course of dealing, b) continuous and well recognised usage, or c) express agreement. In Jowitt and Sons v Union Cold Storage Co. (1913) X imported frozen meat into England. X was financed by J who paid for the meat and reimbursed himself by drawing a bill of exchange, in favour of the bank, on X who accepted it. The bills of lading for the meat were deposited with the bank as security that the bill of exchange would be met. On its arrival in England the meat was stored with the Union Company on the terms (general in the trade) that they should have a general lien. X failed to meet his acceptance, whereupon J took up the bills of lading from the bank and demanded the meat. The Union Company claimed a lien on the meat for charges due from X in respect of other goods. It was held that the Union Company could enforce their general lien against J. By well recognised usage a general lien exists in the case of solicitors, factors, stockbrokers and bankers.