Bava Kamma 108 - Unpaid custodian (Torts)

When one entrusts an item to his fellow, the fellow becomes an unpaid custodian. If one then comes to retrieve the object and his fellow says, "It is lost," the fellow is not obligated to pay since he was doing a favor. But if one insists and asks his fellow to swear and the fellow accepts an oath, things become more complex.

If witnesses come and testify that the custodian consumed the deposit himself, he is obligated to pay for it double what he stole. If the custodian repents and confesses his false oath, he must pay the total amount, plus one-fifth of the value, and bring a guilt offering to the Temple.

What if one robs his father and swears to him that he did not do it, the father dies, and the son then repents his false oath? The son pays the principal plus one-fifth to his father's heirs (his brothers and uncles.) If he does not have the money to repay, he can borrow from others and give it to his brothers; his creditors will come and collect from his portion of the inheritance.

Art: The Last Moments of Christopher Columbus by Claude Jacquand

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