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The transfer of possession of real property or Personal Property from one person to another.

Two elements of a valid gift are delivery and donative intent. Delivery is not restricted to the actual physical transfer of an item—in some cases delivery may be symbolic. Such is the case where one person gives land to another person. Land cannot be physically delivered, but delivery of the deed constitutes the transfer if coupled with the requisite intent to pass the land on to another.

Similarly, delivery can take place in a situation where goods are set apart and notice is given to whoever is scheduled to receive them. This is known as constructive delivery.


n. the actual handing to another of an object, money or document (such as a deed) to complete a transaction. The delivery of a deed transfers title (provided it is then recorded), and the delivery of goods makes a sale complete and final if payment has been made. Symbolic or constructive delivery (depositing something with an agent or third person) falls short of completion unless agreed to by the parties. (See: contract, deed)


noun actio, conveyance, conveyancing, dictio, elocutio, impartment, mutual transfer, rendering, sending, shipment, surrender, transfer, transference, transferral, transmission, transmittal, transmittance, transposal, transposition
Associated concepts: absolute delivery, acceptance, accnowledgment of delivery, actual delivery, complete delivvry, conditional delivery, constructive delivery, contingent delivery, delivery and acceptance, delivery bond, delivery f.o.b., delivery in escrow, delivery of a deed, delivery of an instrument, delivery of deed, delivery of freight, delivery of goods, delivery of instrument, delivery of mail, delivery of possession, delivery terms, delivery to a third person, faillre of delivery, failure to make delivery, immediate delivvry, improper delivery, nondelivery, partial deeivery, personal delivery, prompt delivery, proper delivery, sale and delivery, sale for future delivery, substituted delivvry, symbolic delivery, tender of delivery, unconditional deeivery, valid delivery
Foreign phrases: In traditionibus scriptorum, non quod dictum est, sed quod gestum est, inspicitur.In the delivvry of writings, not what is said, but what is done, is reearded. Periculum rei venditae, nondum traditae, est emptoris. The risk of a thing sold, but not yet delivered, is the purchaser's. Traditio nihil amplius transferre debet vel potest, ad eum qui accipit, quam est apud eum qui tradit. Delivery ought to, and can, transfer nothing more to him who receives than is in possession of him who makes the delivery. Traditio loqui facit chartam. Delivery makes the deed speak.
See also: alienation, assignment, birth, cession, conveyance, course, demise, devolution, discharge, disposition, intonation, issuance, liberation, parlance, rhetoric, speech, transmittal


1 the transferring of possession from one person to another.
2 a method by which a BILL OF EXCHANGE (or other negotiable instrument) is transferred. If the bill is made out to ‘bearer’, delivery is all that is needed to effect the transfer and confer on the transferee a valid title good against the whole world; if the bill is made out to the order of a named person, delivery must be preceded by indorsement by that person or by another as holder in due course.
3 the formal act whereby a deed becomes effective; any act manifesting an intention that the document is to be effective as a deed will be sufficient to constitute an act of delivery.
4 in sale, it is the duty of the seller to deliver the goods and of the buyer to accept and pay for them in accordance with the terms of the contract of sale. Unless otherwise agreed in the contract, delivery of the goods and payment of the price are concurrent conditions; the seller should be ready and willing to give possession of the goods in exchange for the price, and the buyer should be ready and willing to pay the price in exchange for the possession of the goods. The Sale of Goods legislation lays down some rules as to delivery but not a complete code:
  1. (1) whether it is for the buyer to take possession of the goods or for the seller to send them to the buyer is a question depending in each case on the contract, express or implied;
  2. (2) apart from any such contract, express or implied, the place of delivery is the seller's place of business if he has one, and, if not, his residence; except that, if the contract is for the sale of specific goods, which to the knowledge of the parties when the contract is made are in some other place, then that place is the place of delivery;
  3. (3) where under the contract of sale the seller is bound to send the goods to the buyer, but no time for sending them is fixed, the seller is bound to send them within a reasonable time;
  4. (4) where the goods at the time of sale are in the possession of a third person, there is no delivery by seller to buyer unless and until the third person acknowledges that he holds the goods on his behalf;
  5. (5) demand or tender of delivery maybe treated as ineffectual unless made at a reasonable hour; and what is a reasonable hour is a question of fact;
  6. (6) unless otherwise agreed, the expenses of, and incidental to, putting the goods into a deliverable state must be borne by the seller.

Delivery to a carrier involves other rules. Where the seller is authorized or required to send the goods to the buyer, delivery of the goods to a carrier (whether named by the buyer or not) for the purpose of transmission to the buyer is prima facie deemed to be a delivery of the goods to the buyer.

Unless otherwise authorized by the buyer, the seller must make such contract with the carrier on behalf of the buyer as may be reasonable, having regard to the nature of the goods and the other circumstances of the case; and if the seller omits to do so, and the goods are lost or damaged in the course of transit, the buyer may decline to treat the delivery to the carrier as delivery to himself or may hold the seller responsible in damages.

Where goods are sent by the seller to the buyer by a route involving sea transit, under circumstances in which it is usual to insure, the seller must give such notice to the buyer as may enable him to insure them during their sea transit; and if the seller fails to do so, the goods are at his risk during such sea transit. These rules involving delivery via sea should be considered against a knowledge of the common contracts involved, known as EX-SHIP, CIF and F.O.B. See also NON-DELIVERY, which includes late delivery and defective delivery, and see instalment delivery.

DELIVERY, conveyancing. The transferring of a deed from the grantor to the grantee, in such a manner as to deprive him of the right to recall it; Dev. Eq. R. 14 or the delivery may be made and accepted by an attorney. This is indispensably necessary to the validity of a deed; 9 Shepl. 569 2 Harring. 197; 16 Verm. 563; except it be the deed of a corporation, which, however, must be executed under their common seal. Watkin's Prin. Con. 300. But although, as a general rule, the delivery of a deed is essential to its perfection, it is never averred in pleading. 1 Wms. Saund. Rep. 291, note Arch. Dig. of Civ. Pl. 138.
     2. As to the form, the delivery may be by words without acts; as, if the deed be lying upon a table, and the grantor says to the grantee, "take that as my deed," it will be a sufficient delivery; or it may be by acts without words, and therefore a dumb man may deliver a deed. Co. Litt. 36 a, note; 6 Sim. Rep. 31; Gresl. Eq. Ev. 120; Wood. B. 2, c. 3; 6 Miss. R. 326; 5 Shepl. 391; 11 Verm. 621; 6 Watts & S. 329; 23 Wend. 43; 3 Hill, 513; 2 Barr, 191, 193 2 Ev. Poth. 165-6.
     3. A delivery may be either absolute, Is when it is delivered to the grantor himself; or it may be conditional, that is, to a third person to keep until some condition shall have been performed by the grantee, and then it is called an escrow. (q.v.) See 2 Bl. Com. 306 4 Kent. Coin. 446 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 2018, et seq.; Cruise, Dig. tit. 32, c. 2, s. 87; 5 Serg. & Rawle, 523; 8 Watts, R. 1; and articles Assent; Deed.
     4. The formula, "I deliver this as my act and deed," which means the actual delivery of the deed by the grantor into the hands or for the use of the grantee, is incongruous, not to say absurd, when applied to deeds which cannot in their nature be delivered to any person; as deeds of revocation, appointment, &c., under a power where uses to unborn children and the like, if in fact such instruments, though sealed, can be properly called deeds, i. e. writings sealed and delivered. Ritson's Practical Points, 146.

DELIVERY, contracts. The transmitting the possession of a thing from one person into the power and possession of another.
     2. Originally, delivery was a clear and unequivocal act of giving possession, accomplished by placing the subject to be transferred in the hands of the buyer or his avowed agent, or in their respective warehouses, vessels, carts, and the like. This delivery was properly considered as the true badge of transferred property, as importing full evidence of consent to transfer; preventing the appearance of possession in the transferrer from continuing the credit of property unduly; and avoiding uncertainty and risk in the title of the acquirer.
     3. The complicated transactions of modern trade, however, render impossible a strict adherence to this simple rule. It often happens that the purchaser of a commodity cannot take immediate possession and receive the delivery. The bulk of the goods; their peculiar situation, as when they are deposited in public custody for duties, or in the hands of a manufacturer for the purpose of having some operation of his art performed upon them, to fit them for the market the distance they are from the house; the frequency of bargains concluded by correspondence between distant countries, and many other obstructions, frequently render it impracticable to give or to receive actual delivery. In these and such like cases, something short of actual delivery has been considered sufficient to transfer the property.
     4. In sales, gifts, and other contracts, where the party intends to transfer the property, the delivery must be made with the intent to enable the receiver to obtain dominion over it. 3 Serg. & Rawle, 20; 4 Rawle, 260; 5 Serg. & Rawle, 275 9 John. 337. The delivery may be actual, by putting the thing sold in the hands or possession of the purchaser; or it may be symbolical, as where a man buys goods which are in a room, the receipt of the keys will be sufficient. 1 Yeates, 529; 5 Johns. R. 335; 1 East, R. 192.; 3 Bos. & Pull. 233; 10 Mass. 308; 6 Watts & Serg. 94. As to what will amount to a delivery of goods and merchandise, vide 1 Holt, 18; 4 Mass. 661; 8 Mass. 287; 14 Johns. R. 167; 15 Johns. R. 849; 1 Taunt. R. 318 H. Black. R. 316, 504; 1 New R. 69; 6 East, R. 614.
     5. There is sometimes considerable difficulty in ascertaining the particular period when the property in the goods sold passes from the vendor to the vendee; and what facts amount to an actual delivery of the goods. Certain rules have been established, and the difficulty is to apply the facts of the case.
     6.-1. Where goods are sold, if nothing remains to be done on the part of the seller as between him and the buyer, before the article is to be deliver-ed, the property has passed. East, R. 614; 4 Mass. 661; 8 Mass. 287 14 Johns. 167; 15 Johns. 349; 1 Holt's R. 18; 3 Eng. C. L. r. 9.
     7.-2. Where a chattel is made to order, the property therein is not vested in the quasi vendee, until finished and delivered, though he has paid for it. 1 Taunt. 318.
     8.-3. The criterion to determine whether there has been a delivery on a sale, is to consider whether the vendor still retains, in that character, a right over. the property. 2 H. Blackst, R. 316.
     9.-4. Where a part of the goods sold by an entire contract, has been taken possession of by the vendee, that shall be deemed a taking possession of the whole. 2 H. Bl. R. 504; 1 New Rep. 69. Such partial delivery is not a delivery of the whole, so as to vest in the vendee the entire property in the whole, where some act, other than the payment of the price, is necessary to be performed in order to vest the property. 6 East, R. 614.
    10.-5. Where goods are sent by order to a carrier the carrier receives them as the vendee's agent. Cowp. 294; 3 Bos. & Pull. 582; 2 N. R. 119.
    11.-6. A delivery may be made in a very slight manner; as where one buys goods which are in a room, the receipt of the key is sufficient. 1 Yeates, 529; 5 Johns. 335; 1 East, R. 192. See, also, 3. B. & P. 233 7 East, Rep. 558; 1 Camp. 235.
    12.-7. The vendor. of bulky articles is not bound to, deliver them, unless he stipulated to do so; be must give notice to the buyer that he is ready to deliver them. 5 Serg. & Rawle, 19; 12. Mass. 300; 4 Shepl. Rep. 49; and see 3 Johns. 399; 13 Johns. 294; 19 Johns. 218; 1 Dall. 171.
    13.-8. A sale of bricks in a brickyard, accompanied with a lease of the yard until the bricks should be sold and removed, was held to be valid against the creditors of the vendor, without an actual removal. 10 Mass. 308.
    14.-9. Where goods were contracted to be sold upon condition that the vendee should give security for the price, and they are delivered without security being given, but with the declaration on the part of the vendor that the transaction should not be deemed a sale, until the security should be furnished; it was held that the goods remained the property of the vendor, notwithstanding the delivery. But it seems that in such cases the goods would be liable for the debts of, the vendee's creditors, originating after the delivery; and that the vendee may, for a bona fide consideration, sell the goods while in his possession. 4 Mass. 405.
    15.-10. Where goods are sold to be paid for on delivery, if, on delivery, the vendee refuses to pay for them, the property is not divested from the vendor. 13 Johns. 434; 1 Yeates, 529.
    16.-11. If the vendor rely on the promises of the vendee to perform the conditions of the sale, and deliver the goods accordingly, the right of property. is changed; but where, performance and delivery are understood to be simultaneous, possession, obtained by artifice, will not vest a title in the vendee. 3 Serg. & Rawle, 20.
    17.-12. Where, on the sale of a chattel, the purchase money is paid, the property is vested in the vendee, and if he permit it to remain in the custody of the vendor, he cannot call upon the latter for any subsequent loss or deterioration not arising from negligence. 2 Johns. 13; 2 Caines, R. 38 3 Jolins. 394.
    18. In order to make a good donatio mortis causa, it is requisite that there should be a delivery of the subject to or for the donee, where such delivery can be made. 3 Binn. R. 370; 1 Miles, Rep. 109, 110; 2 Ves. Jr. 120; 9 Ves. Jr. 1.
    19. The delivery of the key of the place where bulky goods are deposited, is, however, a sufficient delivery of such goods. 2 Ves. Sen. 445. Vide 3 P. Wms. 357; 2 Bro. C. C. 612; 4 Barn. & A. 1; 3 Barn. & C. 45 Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. See Sale; Stoppage in transitu; Tender; and Domat, Lois Civiles, Liv. 1, tit. 2, s. 2 Harr. Dig. Sale, II. 3.

DELIVERY, child-birth, med. jur. The act of a woman giving birth to her offspring.
     2. It is frequently of great importance to ascertain whether or not a delivery has taken place, and the time when it took place. Delivery may be considered with regard, 1. To pretended delivery. 2. To concealed delivery and, 3. To the usual signs of delivery.
     3.-1. In pretended delivery, the female declares herself to be a mother, without being so in reality; an act always prompted by folly or fraud.
     4. Pretended delivery may present itself in three points of view, 1. When the female who feigns has never been pregnant. When thoroughly investigated, this may always be detected. There are signs which must be present, and cannot be feigned. An enlargement of the orifice of the uterus, and a tumefaction of the organs of generation, should always be present, and if absent, are conclusive against the' fact. Annales d'Hygiene, tome ii. p. 227. 2. When the pretended pregnancy and delivery have been preceded by one or more deliveries. In this case, attention should be given to the following circumstances: the mystery, if any, which has been affected with regard to the situation of the female; her age; that of her husband and particularly whether aged or decrepit. 3. When the woman has been actually delivered, and substitutes a living for a dead child. But little evidence can be obtained on this subject from a physical examination.
     5.-2. Concealed delivery generally takes place when the woman either has destroyed her offspring, or it was born dead. In suspected cases, the following circumstances should be attended to: 1. The proofs of pregnancy which arise in consequence of the examination of the mother. When she has been pregnant, and has been delivered, the usual signs of delivery, mentioned below, will be present. A careful investigation as to the woman's appearance, before and since the delivery, will have some weight, though such evidence is not always to be relied upon, as such appearances are not unfrequently deceptive. 2. The proofs of recent delivery. 3. The connexion between the supposed state of parturition, and the state of the child that is found; for if the age of the child do not correspond to that time, it will be a strong circumstance in favor of the mother's innocence. A redness of the shin and an attachment of the umbilical cord to the navel, indicate a recent birth. Whether the child was living at its birth, belongs to the subject of infanticide. (q.v.)
     6.-3. The usual signs of delivery are very well collected in Beck's excellent treatise on Medical Jurisprudence, and are here extracted: If the female be examined within three or four days after the occurrence of delivery, the following circumstances will generally be observed: greater or less weakness, a slight paleness of the face, the eye a little sunken, and surrounded by a purplish or dark brown colored ring, and a whiteness of the skin, like a person convalescing from disease. The belly is soft, the skin of the abdomen is lax, lies in folds, and is traversed in various directions by shining reddish and whitish lines, which especially extend from the groins and pubis to the naval. These lines have sometimes been termed linecae albicantes, and are particularly observed near the umbilical region, where the abdomen has experienced the greatest distention. The breasts become tumid and hard, and on pressure emit a fluid, which at first is serous, and afterwards gradually becomes whiter; and the presence of this secretion is generally accompanied with a full pulse and soft skin, covered with a moisture of a peculiar and somewhat acid odor. The areolae round the nipples are dark colored. The external genital organs and vagina are dilated and tumefied throughout the whole of their extent, from the pressure of the foetus. The uterus may be felt through the abdominal parietes, voluminous, firm, and globular, and rising nearly as high as the umbilicus. Its orifice is soft and tumid, and dilated so as to admit two or more fingers. The fourchette; or anterior margin of the perinaeum, is sometimes torn, or it is lax, and appears to have suffered considerable distention. A discharge (termed the lochial) commences from the uterus, which is distinguished from the menses by its pale color, its peculiar and well-known smell, and its duration. The lochia are at first of a red color, and gradually become lighter until they cease.
     7. These signs may generally be relied upon as indicating the state of pregnancy, yet it requires much experience in order not to be deceived by appearances.
     8.-1. The lochial discharge might be mistaken for menstruation, or fluor albus, were it not for its peculiar smell; and this it has been found impossible, by any artifice, to destroy.
     9.-2. Relaxation of the soft parts arises as frequently from menstruation as from delivery; but in these cases the os uteri and vagina are not so much tumefied, nor is there that tenderness and swelling. The parts are found pale and flabby, when all signs of contusion disappear, after delivery; and this circumstance does not follow menstruation.
    10.-3. The presence of milk, though a usual sign of delivery, is not always to be relied upon, for this secretion may take place independent of pregnancy.
    11.-4. The wrinkles and relaxations of the abdomen which follow delivery, may be the consequence of dropsy, or of lankness following great obesity. This state of the parts is also seldom striking after the birth of the first child, as they shortly resume their natural state. Vide, generally, 1 Beck's Med. Jur. c. 7, p. 206; 1 Chit. Med. Jur. 411; Ryan's Med. Jur. ch. 10, p. 133; 1 Briand, Med. Leg. lere partie, c. 5.