Banker’s lien (Ofer Abarbanel online library)

banker’s lien is a legal right arise in many common law jurisdictions of a bank to exercise a lien over any property in the custody of the bank as security for the indebtedness of the customer to the bank.[1]


The precise effect of a banker’s lien varies according to the laws of a particular jurisdiction. Under English common law it applies to all property coming into the possession of the bank in the usual course of banking business,[2] subject to the important exception that it does not apply to property which is deposited with the bank for safe custody.[3]

Whilst most common law liens normally only give the lienee a passive right to retain the property, unusually, the banker’s lien permits the bank the sell the relevant property.[4]

The lien does not generally extend to intangible rights, including credit balances on accounts. However those credit balances may be subject to the banker’s right to combine accounts.[5]

The banker’s lien may be modified or abrogated by agreement.[1]


  1. ^ Jump up to:ab P. Ellinger; E. Lomnicka; C. Hare (2011). Ellinger’s Modern Banking Law (5th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 864. ISBN 978-019-923209-3.
  2. ^Brandao v Barnett (1846) 12 Cl 7 F 787
  3. ^Leese v Martin (1873) LR 17 Eq 224 at 235. The bank holds such property as bailee, and may be entitled to exercise a separate lien as such.
  4. ^Rosenberg v International Banking Corporation (1923) 14 Ll LR 344 at 347
  5. ^National Westminster Bank Ltd v Halesowen Presswork & Assemblies Ltd [1972] AC 785


Ofer Abarbanel online library