Assignment is a legal term whereby an individual, the “assignor,” transfers rights, property, or other benefits to another known as the “ assignee .” This concept is used in both contract and property law. The term can refer to either the act of transfer or the rights /property/benefits being transferred.
Under contract law, assignment of a contract is both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of duties , in the absence of evidence otherwise. For example, if A contracts with B to teach B guitar for $50, A can assign this contract to C. That is, this assignment is both: (1) an assignment of A’s rights under the contract to the $50; and (2) a delegation of A’s duty to teach guitar to C. In this example, A is both the “assignor” and the “delegee” who d elegates the duties to another (C), C is known as the “ obligor ” who must perform the obligations to the assignee , and B is the “ assignee ” who is owed duties and is liable to the “ obligor ”.
(1) Assignment of Rights/Duties Under Contract Law
There are a few notable rules regarding assignments under contract law. First, if an individual has not yet secured the contract to perform duties to another, he/she cannot assign his/her future right to an assignee . That is, if A has not yet contracted with B to teach B guitar, A cannot assign his/her rights to C. Second, rights cannot be assigned when they materially change the obligor ’s duty and rights. Third, the obligor can sue the assignee directly if the assignee does not pay him/her. Following the previous example, this means that C ( obligor ) can sue B ( assignee ) if C teaches guitar to B, but B does not pay C $50 in return.
(2) Delegation of Duties
If the promised performance requires a rare genius or skill, then the delegee cannot delegate it to the obligor. It can only be delegated if the promised performance is more commonplace. Further, an obligee can sue if the assignee does not perform. However, the delegee is secondarily liable unless there has been an express release of the delegee. That is, if B does want C to teach guitar but C refuses to, then B can sue C. If C still refuses to perform, then B can compel A to fulfill the duties under secondary liability.
Lastly, a related concept is novation , which is when a new obligor substitutes and releases an old obligor. If novation occurs, then the original obligor’s duties are wiped out. However, novation requires an original obligee’s consent .
Under property law, assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations. For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants to another party (C) to take over the property. In this scenario, A might be able to choose between assigning and subleasing the property to C. If assigning , A would be giving C the entire balance of the term, with no reversion to anyone whereas if subleasing , A would be giving C for a limited period of the remaining term. Significantly, under assignment C would have privity of estate with the landlord while under a sublease, C would not.
[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team ]
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What Is an Assignment of Contract?
Assignment of Contract Explained
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Assignment of contract allows one person to assign, or transfer, their rights, obligations, or property to another. An assignment of contract clause is often included in contracts to give either party the opportunity to transfer their part of the contract to someone else in the future. Many assignment clauses require that both parties agree to the assignment.
Learn more about assignment of contract and how it works.
What Is Assignment of Contract?
Assignment of contract means the contract and the property, rights, or obligations within it can be assigned to another party. An assignment of contract clause can typically be found in a business contract. This type of clause is common in contracts with suppliers or vendors and in intellectual property (patent, trademark , and copyright) agreements.
How Does Assignment of Contract Work?
An assignment may be made to anyone, but it is typically made to a subsidiary or a successor. A subsidiary is a business owned by another business, while a successor is the business that follows a sale, acquisition, or merger.
Let’s suppose Ken owns a lawn mowing service and he has a contract with a real estate firm to mow at each of their offices every week in the summer. The contract includes an assignment clause, so when Ken goes out of business, he assigns the contract to his sister-in-law Karrie, who also owns a lawn mowing service.
Before you try to assign something in a contract, check the contract to make sure it's allowed, and notify the other party in the contract.
Assignment usually is included in a specific clause in a contract. It typically includes transfer of both accountability and responsibility to another party, but liability usually remains with the assignor (the person doing the assigning) unless there is language to the contrary.
What Does Assignment of Contract Cover?
Generally, just about anything of value in a contract can be assigned, unless there is a specific law or public policy disallowing the assignment.
Rights and obligations of specific people can’t be assigned because special skills and abilities can’t be transferred. This is called specific performance. For example, Billy Joel wouldn't be able to transfer or assign a contract to perform at Madison Square Garden to someone else—they wouldn't have his special abilities.
Assignments won’t stand up in court if the assignment significantly changes the terms of the contract. For example, if Karrie’s business is tree trimming, not lawn mowing, the contract can’t be assigned to her.
Assigning Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks) has value, and these assets are often assigned. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) says patents are personal property and that patent rights can be assigned. Trademarks, too, can be assigned. The assignment must be registered with the USPTO's Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS) .
The U.S. Copyright Office doesn't keep a database of copyright assignments, but they will record the document if you follow their procedure.
Alternatives to Assignment of Contract
There are other types of transfers that may be functional alternatives to assignment.
Licensing is an agreement whereby one party leases the rights to use a piece of property (for example, intellectual property) from another. For instance, a business that owns a patent may license another company to make products using that patent.
Delegation permits someone else to act on your behalf. For example, Ken’s lawn service might delegate Karrie to do mowing for him without assigning the entire contract to her. Ken would still receive the payment and control the work.
Do I Need an Assignment of Contract?
Assignment of contract can be a useful clause to include in a business agreement. The most common cases of assignment of contract in a business situation are:
- Assignment of a trademark, copyright, or patent
- Assignments to a successor company in the case of the sale of the business
- Assignment in a contract with a supplier or customer
- Assignment in an employment contract or work for hire agreement
Before you sign a contract, look to see if there is an assignment clause, and get the advice of an attorney if you want to assign something in a contract.
- Assignment of contract is the ability to transfer rights, property, or obligations to another.
- Assignment of contract is a clause often found in business contracts.
- A party may assign a contract to another party if the contract permits it and no law forbids it.
Legal Information Institute. " Assignment ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.
Legal Information Institute. " Specific Performance ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. " 301 Ownership/Assignability of Patents and Applications [R-10.2019] ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.
Licensing International. " What is Licensing ." Accessed Jan. 2, 2021.
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- assignments basic law
Assignments: The Basic Law
The assignment of a right or obligation is a common contractual event under the law and the right to assign (or prohibition against assignments) is found in the majority of agreements, leases and business structural documents created in the United States.
As with many terms commonly used, people are familiar with the term but often are not aware or fully aware of what the terms entail. The concept of assignment of rights and obligations is one of those simple concepts with wide ranging ramifications in the contractual and business context and the law imposes severe restrictions on the validity and effect of assignment in many instances. Clear contractual provisions concerning assignments and rights should be in every document and structure created and this article will outline why such drafting is essential for the creation of appropriate and effective contracts and structures.
The reader should first read the article on Limited Liability Entities in the United States and Contracts since the information in those articles will be assumed in this article.
Basic Definitions and Concepts:
An assignment is the transfer of rights held by one party called the “assignor” to another party called the “assignee.” The legal nature of the assignment and the contractual terms of the agreement between the parties determines some additional rights and liabilities that accompany the assignment. The assignment of rights under a contract usually completely transfers the rights to the assignee to receive the benefits accruing under the contract. Ordinarily, the term assignment is limited to the transfer of rights that are intangible, like contractual rights and rights connected with property. Merchants Service Co. v. Small Claims Court , 35 Cal. 2d 109, 113-114 (Cal. 1950).
An assignment will generally be permitted under the law unless there is an express prohibition against assignment in the underlying contract or lease. Where assignments are permitted, the assignor need not consult the other party to the contract but may merely assign the rights at that time. However, an assignment cannot have any adverse effect on the duties of the other party to the contract, nor can it diminish the chance of the other party receiving complete performance. The assignor normally remains liable unless there is an agreement to the contrary by the other party to the contract.
The effect of a valid assignment is to remove privity between the assignor and the obligor and create privity between the obligor and the assignee. Privity is usually defined as a direct and immediate contractual relationship. See Merchants case above.
Further, for the assignment to be effective in most jurisdictions, it must occur in the present. One does not normally assign a future right; the assignment vests immediate rights and obligations.
No specific language is required to create an assignment so long as the assignor makes clear his/her intent to assign identified contractual rights to the assignee. Since expensive litigation can erupt from ambiguous or vague language, obtaining the correct verbiage is vital. An agreement must manifest the intent to transfer rights and can either be oral or in writing and the rights assigned must be certain.
Note that an assignment of an interest is the transfer of some identifiable property, claim, or right from the assignor to the assignee. The assignment operates to transfer to the assignee all of the rights, title, or interest of the assignor in the thing assigned. A transfer of all rights, title, and interests conveys everything that the assignor owned in the thing assigned and the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor. Knott v. McDonald’s Corp ., 985 F. Supp. 1222 (N.D. Cal. 1997)
The parties must intend to effectuate an assignment at the time of the transfer, although no particular language or procedure is necessary. As long ago as the case of National Reserve Co. v. Metropolitan Trust Co ., 17 Cal. 2d 827 (Cal. 1941), the court held that in determining what rights or interests pass under an assignment, the intention of the parties as manifested in the instrument is controlling.
The intent of the parties to an assignment is a question of fact to be derived not only from the instrument executed by the parties but also from the surrounding circumstances. When there is no writing to evidence the intention to transfer some identifiable property, claim, or right, it is necessary to scrutinize the surrounding circumstances and parties’ acts to ascertain their intentions. Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998)
The general rule applicable to assignments of choses in action is that an assignment, unless there is a contract to the contrary, carries with it all securities held by the assignor as collateral to the claim and all rights incidental thereto and vests in the assignee the equitable title to such collateral securities and incidental rights. An unqualified assignment of a contract or chose in action, however, with no indication of the intent of the parties, vests in the assignee the assigned contract or chose and all rights and remedies incidental thereto.
More examples: In Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs ., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998), the court held that the assignee of a party to a subordination agreement is entitled to the benefits and is subject to the burdens of the agreement. In Florida E. C. R. Co. v. Eno , 99 Fla. 887 (Fla. 1930), the court held that the mere assignment of all sums due in and of itself creates no different or other liability of the owner to the assignee than that which existed from the owner to the assignor.
And note that even though an assignment vests in the assignee all rights, remedies, and contingent benefits which are incidental to the thing assigned, those which are personal to the assignor and for his sole benefit are not assigned. Rasp v. Hidden Valley Lake, Inc ., 519 N.E.2d 153, 158 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988). Thus, if the underlying agreement provides that a service can only be provided to X, X cannot assign that right to Y.
Novation Compared to Assignment:
Although the difference between a novation and an assignment may appear narrow, it is an essential one. “Novation is a act whereby one party transfers all its obligations and benefits under a contract to a third party.” In a novation, a third party successfully substitutes the original party as a party to the contract. “When a contract is novated, the other contracting party must be left in the same position he was in prior to the novation being made.”
A sublease is the transfer when a tenant retains some right of reentry onto the leased premises. However, if the tenant transfers the entire leasehold estate, retaining no right of reentry or other reversionary interest, then the transfer is an assignment. The assignor is normally also removed from liability to the landlord only if the landlord consents or allowed that right in the lease. In a sublease, the original tenant is not released from the obligations of the original lease.
An equitable assignment is one in which one has a future interest and is not valid at law but valid in a court of equity. In National Bank of Republic v. United Sec. Life Ins. & Trust Co. , 17 App. D.C. 112 (D.C. Cir. 1900), the court held that to constitute an equitable assignment of a chose in action, the following has to occur generally: anything said written or done, in pursuance of an agreement and for valuable consideration, or in consideration of an antecedent debt, to place a chose in action or fund out of the control of the owner, and appropriate it to or in favor of another person, amounts to an equitable assignment. Thus, an agreement, between a debtor and a creditor, that the debt shall be paid out of a specific fund going to the debtor may operate as an equitable assignment.
In Egyptian Navigation Co. v. Baker Invs. Corp. , 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30804 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2008), the court stated that an equitable assignment occurs under English law when an assignor, with an intent to transfer his/her right to a chose in action, informs the assignee about the right so transferred.
An executory agreement or a declaration of trust are also equitable assignments if unenforceable as assignments by a court of law but enforceable by a court of equity exercising sound discretion according to the circumstances of the case. Since California combines courts of equity and courts of law, the same court would hear arguments as to whether an equitable assignment had occurred. Quite often, such relief is granted to avoid fraud or unjust enrichment.
Note that obtaining an assignment through fraudulent means invalidates the assignment. Fraud destroys the validity of everything into which it enters. It vitiates the most solemn contracts, documents, and even judgments. Walker v. Rich , 79 Cal. App. 139 (Cal. App. 1926). If an assignment is made with the fraudulent intent to delay, hinder, and defraud creditors, then it is void as fraudulent in fact. See our article on Transfers to Defraud Creditors .
But note that the motives that prompted an assignor to make the transfer will be considered as immaterial and will constitute no defense to an action by the assignee, if an assignment is considered as valid in all other respects.
Enforceability of Assignments:
Whether a right under a contract is capable of being transferred is determined by the law of the place where the contract was entered into. The validity and effect of an assignment is determined by the law of the place of assignment. The validity of an assignment of a contractual right is governed by the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the assignment and the parties.
In some jurisdictions, the traditional conflict of laws rules governing assignments has been rejected and the law of the place having the most significant contacts with the assignment applies. In Downs v. American Mut. Liability Ins. Co ., 14 N.Y.2d 266 (N.Y. 1964), a wife and her husband separated and the wife obtained a judgment of separation from the husband in New York. The judgment required the husband to pay a certain yearly sum to the wife. The husband assigned 50 percent of his future salary, wages, and earnings to the wife. The agreement authorized the employer to make such payments to the wife.
After the husband moved from New York, the wife learned that he was employed by an employer in Massachusetts. She sent the proper notice and demanded payment under the agreement. The employer refused and the wife brought an action for enforcement. The court observed that Massachusetts did not prohibit assignment of the husband’s wages. Moreover, Massachusetts law was not controlling because New York had the most significant relationship with the assignment. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of the wife.
Therefore, the validity of an assignment is determined by looking to the law of the forum with the most significant relationship to the assignment itself. To determine the applicable law of assignments, the court must look to the law of the state which is most significantly related to the principal issue before it.
Assignment of Contractual Rights:
Generally, the law allows the assignment of a contractual right unless the substitution of rights would materially change the duty of the obligor, materially increase the burden or risk imposed on the obligor by the contract, materially impair the chance of obtaining return performance, or materially reduce the value of the performance to the obligor. Restat 2d of Contracts, § 317(2)(a). This presumes that the underlying agreement is silent on the right to assign.
If the contract specifically precludes assignment, the contractual right is not assignable. Whether a contract is assignable is a matter of contractual intent and one must look to the language used by the parties to discern that intent.
In the absence of an express provision to the contrary, the rights and duties under a bilateral executory contract that does not involve personal skill, trust, or confidence may be assigned without the consent of the other party. But note that an assignment is invalid if it would materially alter the other party’s duties and responsibilities. Once an assignment is effective, the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor and assumes all of assignor’s rights. Hence, after a valid assignment, the assignor’s right to performance is extinguished, transferred to assignee, and the assignee possesses the same rights, benefits, and remedies assignor once possessed. Robert Lamb Hart Planners & Architects v. Evergreen, Ltd. , 787 F. Supp. 753 (S.D. Ohio 1992).
On the other hand, an assignee’s right against the obligor is subject to “all of the limitations of the assignor’s right, all defenses thereto, and all set-offs and counterclaims which would have been available against the assignor had there been no assignment, provided that these defenses and set-offs are based on facts existing at the time of the assignment.” See Robert Lamb , case, above.
The power of the contract to restrict assignment is broad. Usually, contractual provisions that restrict assignment of the contract without the consent of the obligor are valid and enforceable, even when there is statutory authorization for the assignment. The restriction of the power to assign is often ineffective unless the restriction is expressly and precisely stated. Anti-assignment clauses are effective only if they contain clear, unambiguous language of prohibition. Anti-assignment clauses protect only the obligor and do not affect the transaction between the assignee and assignor.
Usually, a prohibition against the assignment of a contract does not prevent an assignment of the right to receive payments due, unless circumstances indicate the contrary. Moreover, the contracting parties cannot, by a mere non-assignment provision, prevent the effectual alienation of the right to money which becomes due under the contract.
A contract provision prohibiting or restricting an assignment may be waived, or a party may so act as to be estopped from objecting to the assignment, such as by effectively ratifying the assignment. The power to void an assignment made in violation of an anti-assignment clause may be waived either before or after the assignment. See our article on Contracts.
Noncompete Clauses and Assignments:
Of critical import to most buyers of businesses is the ability to ensure that key employees of the business being purchased cannot start a competing company. Some states strictly limit such clauses, some do allow them. California does restrict noncompete clauses, only allowing them under certain circumstances. A common question in those states that do allow them is whether such rights can be assigned to a new party, such as the buyer of the buyer.
A covenant not to compete, also called a non-competitive clause, is a formal agreement prohibiting one party from performing similar work or business within a designated area for a specified amount of time. This type of clause is generally included in contracts between employer and employee and contracts between buyer and seller of a business.
Many workers sign a covenant not to compete as part of the paperwork required for employment. It may be a separate document similar to a non-disclosure agreement, or buried within a number of other clauses in a contract. A covenant not to compete is generally legal and enforceable, although there are some exceptions and restrictions.
Whenever a company recruits skilled employees, it invests a significant amount of time and training. For example, it often takes years before a research chemist or a design engineer develops a workable knowledge of a company’s product line, including trade secrets and highly sensitive information. Once an employee gains this knowledge and experience, however, all sorts of things can happen. The employee could work for the company until retirement, accept a better offer from a competing company or start up his or her own business.
A covenant not to compete may cover a number of potential issues between employers and former employees. Many companies spend years developing a local base of customers or clients. It is important that this customer base not fall into the hands of local competitors. When an employee signs a covenant not to compete, he or she usually agrees not to use insider knowledge of the company’s customer base to disadvantage the company. The covenant not to compete often defines a broad geographical area considered off-limits to former employees, possibly tens or hundreds of miles.
Another area of concern covered by a covenant not to compete is a potential ‘brain drain’. Some high-level former employees may seek to recruit others from the same company to create new competition. Retention of employees, especially those with unique skills or proprietary knowledge, is vital for most companies, so a covenant not to compete may spell out definite restrictions on the hiring or recruiting of employees.
A covenant not to compete may also define a specific amount of time before a former employee can seek employment in a similar field. Many companies offer a substantial severance package to make sure former employees are financially solvent until the terms of the covenant not to compete have been met.
Because the use of a covenant not to compete can be controversial, a handful of states, including California, have largely banned this type of contractual language. The legal enforcement of these agreements falls on individual states, and many have sided with the employee during arbitration or litigation. A covenant not to compete must be reasonable and specific, with defined time periods and coverage areas. If the agreement gives the company too much power over former employees or is ambiguous, state courts may declare it to be overbroad and therefore unenforceable. In such case, the employee would be free to pursue any employment opportunity, including working for a direct competitor or starting up a new company of his or her own.
It has been held that an employee’s covenant not to compete is assignable where one business is transferred to another, that a merger does not constitute an assignment of a covenant not to compete, and that a covenant not to compete is enforceable by a successor to the employer where the assignment does not create an added burden of employment or other disadvantage to the employee. However, in some states such as Hawaii, it has also been held that a covenant not to compete is not assignable and under various statutes for various reasons that such covenants are not enforceable against an employee by a successor to the employer. Hawaii v. Gannett Pac. Corp. , 99 F. Supp. 2d 1241 (D. Haw. 1999)
It is vital to obtain the relevant law of the applicable state before drafting or attempting to enforce assignment rights in this particular area.
In the current business world of fast changing structures, agreements, employees and projects, the ability to assign rights and obligations is essential to allow flexibility and adjustment to new situations. Conversely, the ability to hold a contracting party into the deal may be essential for the future of a party. Thus, the law of assignments and the restriction on same is a critical aspect of every agreement and every structure. This basic provision is often glanced at by the contracting parties, or scribbled into the deal at the last minute but can easily become the most vital part of the transaction.
As an example, one client of ours came into the office outraged that his co venturer on a sizable exporting agreement, who had excellent connections in Brazil, had elected to pursue another venture instead and assigned the agreement to a party unknown to our client and without the business contacts our client considered vital. When we examined the handwritten agreement our client had drafted in a restaurant in Sao Paolo, we discovered there was no restriction on assignment whatsoever…our client had not even considered that right when drafting the agreement after a full day of work.
One choses who one does business with carefully…to ensure that one’s choice remains the party on the other side of the contract, one must master the ability to negotiate proper assignment provisions.
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Understanding an assignment and assumption agreement
updated October 17, 2023 · 3min read
The assignment and assumption agreement
The basics of assignment and assumption, filling in the assignment and assumption agreement.
While every business should try its best to meet its contractual obligations, changes in circumstance can happen that could necessitate transferring your rights and duties under a contract to another party who would be better able to meet those obligations.
If you find yourself in such a situation, and your contract provides for the possibility of assignment, an assignment and assumption agreement can be a good option for preserving your relationship with the party you initially contracted with, while at the same time enabling you to pass on your contractual rights and duties to a third party.
An assignment and assumption agreement is used after a contract is signed, in order to transfer one of the contracting party's rights and obligations to a third party who was not originally a party to the contract. The party making the assignment is called the assignor, while the third party accepting the assignment is known as the assignee.
In order for an assignment and assumption agreement to be valid, the following criteria need to be met:
- The initial contract must provide for the possibility of assignment by one of the initial contracting parties.
- The assignor must agree to assign their rights and duties under the contract to the assignee.
- The assignee must agree to accept, or "assume," those contractual rights and duties.
- The other party to the initial contract must consent to the transfer of rights and obligations to the assignee.
A standard assignment and assumption contract is often a good starting point if you need to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement. However, for more complex situations, such as an assignment and amendment agreement in which several of the initial contract terms will be modified, or where only some, but not all, rights and duties will be assigned, it's a good idea to retain the services of an attorney who can help you draft an agreement that will meet all your needs.
When you're ready to enter into an assignment and assumption agreement, it's a good idea to have a firm grasp of the basics of assignment:
- First, carefully read and understand the assignment and assumption provision in the initial contract. Contracts vary widely in their language on this topic, and each contract will have specific criteria that must be met in order for a valid assignment of rights to take place.
- All parties to the agreement should carefully review the document to make sure they each know what they're agreeing to, and to help ensure that all important terms and conditions have been addressed in the agreement.
- Until the agreement is signed by all the parties involved, the assignor will still be obligated for all responsibilities stated in the initial contract. If you are the assignor, you need to ensure that you continue with business as usual until the assignment and assumption agreement has been properly executed.
Unless you're dealing with a complex assignment situation, working with a template often is a good way to begin drafting an assignment and assumption agreement that will meet your needs. Generally speaking, your agreement should include the following information:
- Identification of the existing agreement, including details such as the date it was signed and the parties involved, and the parties' rights to assign under this initial agreement
- The effective date of the assignment and assumption agreement
- Identification of the party making the assignment (the assignor), and a statement of their desire to assign their rights under the initial contract
- Identification of the third party accepting the assignment (the assignee), and a statement of their acceptance of the assignment
- Identification of the other initial party to the contract, and a statement of their consent to the assignment and assumption agreement
- A section stating that the initial contract is continued; meaning, that, other than the change to the parties involved, all terms and conditions in the original contract stay the same
In addition to these sections that are specific to an assignment and assumption agreement, your contract should also include standard contract language, such as clauses about indemnification, future amendments, and governing law.
Sometimes circumstances change, and as a business owner you may find yourself needing to assign your rights and duties under a contract to another party. A properly drafted assignment and assumption agreement can help you make the transfer smoothly while, at the same time, preserving the cordiality of your initial business relationship under the original contract.
by Belle Wong, J.D.
Belle Wong, is a freelance writer specializing in small business, personal finance, banking, and tech/SAAS. She ...
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How to Draft an Assignment of Contract
Last Updated: January 23, 2022
This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD . Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. This article has been viewed 5,316 times.
A contract is an agreement between at least two parties—A and B. However, one party might want to transfer the contract to someone else. For example, B might want to assign its rights and obligations to C. Sometimes, a contract prohibits assignment, in which case B can’t assign the contract to anyone. In other contracts, the other party to the original contract (here Party A) must also agree to the assignment from B to C. If the contract allows assignment, then an assignment can take place once a proper assignment agreement has been created.
Starting the Assignment Agreement
- If you are printing the agreement on letterhead, make sure to leave enough room at the top.
- Sample language could read, “This Assignment (‘Assignment’), dated as of [insert date] (‘Effective Date’), is made between [insert your name] (‘Assignor’) and [insert the name of the assignee] (‘Assignee’).”  X Research source
- Sample recitals could read, “Whereas, Assignor entered into the following Contract with [the name of the party you contracted with, called the ‘obligor’] on [insert date of the contract] (‘Contract’); and whereas Assignor wishes to assign all of its rights and obligations under the Contract to Assignee. Now, therefore, Assignor and Assignee agree as follows.”
Granting the Assignment
- A sample grant could read: “Assignor and Assignee hereby agree that the Assignor shall assign all its title, right, and interest, and delegate all its obligations, responsibilities, and duties, in and to the Contract to Assignee.”
- “Assignee hereby accepts the assignment of all of Assignor’s obligations, responsibilities, and duties under the Contract and all of Assignor’s right, title, and interest in and to the Contract.”
- A sample modification provision could read: “This Agreement may only be modified if the modification is made in writing and executed by both Assignor and Assignee. No verbal agreement is allowed.”
- The assignor could agree to indemnify the obligor: “Assignor agrees to defend and indemnify [insert name of the obligor] from any and all claims, judgments, actions, proceedings, liabilities, and costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs of defense and damages, resulting from Assignor’s performance prior to the assignment of the Contract and resulting from Assignee’s performance after the assignment of the Contract. However, after the assignment of the Contract, [insert name of the obligor] shall first look to Assignee to satisfy all claims, actions, judgments, proceedings, liabilities, and costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs of defense and damages resulting from Assignee’s performance.”
- The assignee should also agree to indemnify the obligor: “Assignee agrees to indemnify the [insert name of obligor] from any and all claims, judgments, actions, proceedings, liabilities, and costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs of defense and damages, resulting from Assignee’s performance after the assignment of the Contract.”
Finalizing the Agreement
- You could write, “This Assignment shall be construed and interpreted, and the rights of the parties determined by, the laws of the State of Maine (without regard to the conflicts of law principles thereof or any other jurisdiction).”  X Research source
- A sample clause could read, “If any part of this Agreement is declared invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of the Agreement shall continue to be valid and enforceable.”  X Research source
- Just above the signature line, insert: “In witness whereof, the parties have caused this Assignment to be duly executed as of the date first written above.”  X Research source
- If you don’t have an attorney, then you should contact your local or state bar association and ask for a referral.
- When scheduling the consultation, ask how much the attorney charges.
You might also like.
- ↑ http://contracts.onecle.com/annies/baking-assignment-2014-03-20.shtml
- ↑ http://www.contractstandards.com/clauses/severability
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Assignment of Contract Rights: Everything You Need to Know
The assignment of contract rights happens when one party assigns the obligations and rights of their part of a legal agreement to a different party. 3 min read
The assignment of contract rights happens when one party assigns the obligations and rights of their part of a legal agreement to a different party.
What Is an Assignment of Contract?
The party that currently holds rights and obligations in an existing contract is called the assignor and the party that is taking over that position in the contract is called the assignee. When assignment of contract takes place, the assignor usually wants to hand all of their duties over to a new individual or company, but the assignee needs to be fully aware of what they're taking on.
Only tangible things like property and contract rights can be transferred or assigned . Most contracts allow for assignment or transfer of contract rights, but some will include a clause specifying that transfers are not permitted.
If the contract does allow for assignments, the assignor isn't required to have the agreement of the other party in the contract but may transfer their rights whenever they want. Contract assignment does not affect the rights and responsibilities of either party involved in the contract. Just because rights are assigned or transferred doesn't mean that the duties of the contract no longer need to be carried out.
Even after the assignor transfers their rights to another, they still remain liable if any issues arise unless otherwise noted in an agreement with the other party.
The purpose for the assignment of contract rights is to change the contractual relationship, or privity , between two parties by replacing one party with a new party.
How Do Contract Assignments Work?
Contract assignments are handled differently depending on certain aspects of the agreement and other factors. The language of the original contract plays a huge role because some agreements include clauses that don't allow for the assignment of contract rights or that require the consent of the other party before assignment can occur.
For example, if Susan has a contract with a local pharmacy to deliver her prescriptions each month and the pharmacy changes ownership, the new pharmacy can have Susan's contract assigned to them. As long as Susan continues to receive her medicine when she needs it, the contract continues on, but now Susan has an agreement with a new party.
Some contracts specify that the liability of the agreement lies with the original parties, even if assignment of contract takes place. This happens when the assignor guarantees that the assignee will continue to perform the duties required in the contract. That guarantee makes the assignor liable.
Are Assignments Always Enforced?
Assignments of contract rights are usually enforceable, but will not be under these circumstances:
- Assignment is prohibited in the contract language, which is called an anti-assignment clause.
- Assignment of rights changes the foundational terms of the agreement.
- The assignment is illegal in some way.
If assignment of contract takes place, but the contract actually prohibits it, the assignment will automatically be voided.
When a transfer of contract rights will somehow change the basics of the contract, assignment cannot happen. For instance, if risks are increased, value is decreased, or the ability for performance is affected, the assignment will probably not be enforced by the court.
Basic Rights of Contract Assignments
Most contracts allow for assignments, but you'll want to double check a contract before signing if this is something you anticipate happening during the lifespan of your agreement. Contract law does impose strict rules and regulations regarding the assignment of contract rights, so it's important to be sure that any transfers of rights are fully legal before acting on them.
Any business agreements should always outline provisions for contract assignments and be well-drafted to be sure that the agreement is effective and enforceable.
Why Use Contract Assignments?
When an assignor hands over their contracts rights to an assignee, they are signing away their obligation to perform and putting that obligation on a new party. The other party involved in the contract should see no difference in how the agreement plays out. If performance is negatively affected by the assignment of rights, something is wrong.
If a party in a contract can no longer perform their duties, it is better to assign their contractual rights to a party who can carry out the duties rather than breach contract.
If you need help with the assignment of contract rights, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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- Assignment of Rights Example
- Consent to Assignment
- Assignment of Rights and Obligations Under a Contract
- Legal Assignment
- Assignment Contract Law
- Assignment Law
- Assignment Of Contracts
- Assignment and Novation Agreement: What You Need to Know
- Assignability Of Contracts
- What Is the Definition of Assigns
- Assignment Clause
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- Acceleration Clause
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- Consideration Clause
- Definitions Clause
- Dispute Resolution Clause
- Entire Agreement Clause
- Escalation Clause
- Exclusivity Clause
- Exculpatory Clause
- Force Majeure Clause
- Governing Law Clause
- Indemnification Clause
- Indemnity Clause
- Insurance Clause
- Integration Clause
- Merger Clause
- Non-Competition Clause
- Non-Disparagement Clause
- Non-Exclusivity Clause
- Non-Solicitation Clause
- Privacy Clause
- Release Clause
- Severability Clause
- Subordination Clause
- Subrogation Clause
- Survival Clause
- Termination Clause
- Time of Essence Clause
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Assignment clause defined.
Assignment clauses are legally binding provisions in contracts that give a party the chance to engage in a transfer of ownership or assign their contractual obligations and rights to a different contracting party.
In other words, an assignment clause can reassign contracts to another party. They can commonly be seen in contracts related to business purchases.
Here’s an article about assignment clauses.
Assignment Clause Explained
Assignment contracts are helpful when you need to maintain an ongoing obligation regardless of ownership. Some agreements have limitations or prohibitions on assignments, while other parties can freely enter into them.
Here’s another article about assignment clauses.
Purpose of Assignment Clause
The purpose of assignment clauses is to establish the terms around transferring contractual obligations. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) permits the enforceability of assignment clauses.
Assignment Clause Examples
Examples of assignment clauses include:
- Example 1 . A business closing or a change of control occurs
- Example 2 . New services providers taking over existing customer contracts
- Example 3 . Unique real estate obligations transferring to a new property owner as a condition of sale
- Example 4 . Many mergers and acquisitions transactions, such as insurance companies taking over customer policies during a merger
Here’s an article about the different types of assignment clauses.
Assignment Clause Samples
Sample 1 – sales contract.
Assignment; Survival . Neither party shall assign all or any portion of the Contract without the other party’s prior written consent, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld; provided, however, that either party may, without such consent, assign this Agreement, in whole or in part, in connection with the transfer or sale of all or substantially all of the assets or business of such Party relating to the product(s) to which this Agreement relates. The Contract shall bind and inure to the benefit of the successors and permitted assigns of the respective parties. Any assignment or transfer not in accordance with this Contract shall be void. In order that the parties may fully exercise their rights and perform their obligations arising under the Contract, any provisions of the Contract that are required to ensure such exercise or performance (including any obligation accrued as of the termination date) shall survive the termination of the Contract.
Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-10.29 3 dex1029.htm SALES CONTRACT , Viewed May 10, 2021, < https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1492426/000119312510226984/dex1029.htm >.
Sample 2 – Purchase and Sale Agreement
Assignment . Purchaser shall not assign this Agreement or any interest therein to any Person, without the prior written consent of Seller, which consent may be withheld in Seller’s sole discretion. Notwithstanding the foregoing, upon prior written notice to Seller, Purchaser may designate any Affiliate as its nominee to receive title to the Property, or assign all of its right, title and interest in this Agreement to any Affiliate of Purchaser by providing written notice to Seller no later than five (5) Business Days prior to the Closing; provided, however, that (a) such Affiliate remains an Affiliate of Purchaser, (b) Purchaser shall not be released from any of its liabilities and obligations under this Agreement by reason of such designation or assignment, (c) such designation or assignment shall not be effective until Purchaser has provided Seller with a fully executed copy of such designation or assignment and assumption instrument, which shall (i) provide that Purchaser and such designee or assignee shall be jointly and severally liable for all liabilities and obligations of Purchaser under this Agreement, (ii) provide that Purchaser and its designee or assignee agree to pay any additional transfer tax as a result of such designation or assignment, (iii) include a representation and warranty in favor of Seller that all representations and warranties made by Purchaser in this Agreement are true and correct with respect to such designee or assignee as of the date of such designation or assignment, and will be true and correct as of the Closing, and (iv) otherwise be in form and substance satisfactory to Seller and (d) such Assignee is approved by Manager as an assignee of the Management Agreement under Article X of the Management Agreement. For purposes of this Section 16.4, “Affiliate” shall include any direct or indirect member or shareholder of the Person in question, in addition to any Person that would be deemed an Affiliate pursuant to the definition of “Affiliate” under Section 1.1 hereof and not by way of limitation of such definition.
Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-10.8 3 dex108.htm PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT , Viewed May 10, 2021, < https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1490985/000119312510160407/dex108.htm >.
Sample 3 – Share Purchase Agreement
Assignment . Neither this Agreement nor any right or obligation hereunder may be assigned by any Party without the prior written consent of the other Parties, and any attempted assignment without the required consents shall be void.
Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-4.12 3 dex412.htm SHARE PURCHASE AGREEMENT , Viewed May 10, 2021, < https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1329394/000119312507148404/dex412.htm >.
Sample 4 – Asset Purchase Agreement
Assignment . This Agreement and any of the rights, interests, or obligations incurred hereunder, in part or as a whole, at any time after the Closing, are freely assignable by Buyer. This Agreement and any of the rights, interests, or obligations incurred hereunder, in part or as a whole, are assignable by Seller only upon the prior written consent of Buyer, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld. This Agreement will be binding upon, inure to the benefit of and be enforceable by the parties and their respective successors and permitted assigns.
Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-2.1 2 dex21.htm ASSET PURCHASE AGREEMENT , Viewed May 10, 2021, < https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1428669/000119312510013625/dex21.htm >.
Sample 5 – Asset Purchase Agreement
Assignment; Binding Effect; Severability
This Agreement may not be assigned by any party hereto without the other party’s written consent; provided, that Buyer may transfer or assign in whole or in part to one or more Buyer Designee its right to purchase all or a portion of the Purchased Assets, but no such transfer or assignment will relieve Buyer of its obligations hereunder. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of and be enforceable by the successors, legal representatives and permitted assigns of each party hereto. The provisions of this Agreement are severable, and in the event that any one or more provisions are deemed illegal or unenforceable the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect unless the deletion of such provision shall cause this Agreement to become materially adverse to either party, in which event the parties shall use reasonable commercial efforts to arrive at an accommodation that best preserves for the parties the benefits and obligations of the offending provision.
Security Exchange Commission - Edgar Database, EX-2.4 2 dex24.htm ASSET PURCHASE AGREEMENT , Viewed May 10, 2021, < https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1002047/000119312511171858/dex24.htm >.
Common Contracts with Assignment Clauses
Common contracts with assignment clauses include:
- Real estate contracts
- Sales contract
- Asset purchase agreement
- Purchase and sale agreement
- Bill of sale
- Assignment and transaction financing agreement
Assignment Clause FAQs
Assignment clauses are powerful when used correctly. Check out the assignment clause FAQs below to learn more:
What is an assignment clause in real estate?
Assignment clauses in real estate transfer legal obligations from one owner to another party. They also allow house flippers to engage in a contract negotiation with a seller and then assign the real estate to the buyer while collecting a fee for their services. Real estate lawyers assist in the drafting of assignment clauses in real estate transactions.
What does no assignment clause mean?
No assignment clauses prohibit the transfer or assignment of contract obligations from one part to another.
What’s the purpose of the transfer and assignment clause in the purchase agreement?
The purpose of the transfer and assignment clause in the purchase agreement is to protect all involved parties’ rights and ensure that assignments are not to be unreasonably withheld. Contract lawyers can help you avoid legal mistakes when drafting your business contracts’ transfer and assignment clauses.
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What is a Contract Assignment?
In a contract assignment, one of the two parties to a contract may transfer their right to the other’s performance to a third party. This is known as “contract assignment.” Generally, all rights under a contract may be assigned. A provision in the contract that states the contract may not be assigned usually refers to the delegation of the assignor’s (person who assigns) duties under that contract, not their rights under the contract.
In modern law, the phrase “assignment of contract” usually means assignment of both rights and duties under a contract.
Who are the Various Parties Involved in a Contract Assignment?
In a contract, there are two parties to the agreement, X and Y. The parties may agree to let X assign X’s rights to a third party . Once the third party enters the picture, each party has a special name. For instance, suppose X, a seller of bookmarks, contracts with Y, a purchaser of bookmarks. Y desires to have Y’s right to X’s performance (the sale of bookmarks on a monthly basis) to another person.
This third person, Z, is called the assignee. X is called the obligor , and Y is called the assignor , since Y has assigned its right to X’s performance . X, the obligor, is obligated to continue to perform its duties under the agreement.
How is a Contract Assignment Created?
There are no “magic words” needed to create an assignment. The law simply requires that the would-be assignor have an intent to immediately and completely transfer their rights in the agreement. In addition, writing is typically not required to create an assignment. As long as X and Y both adequately understand what right is being assigned, an assignment is created.
Words that indicate a transfer is to take place suffice, such as “I intend to transfer my rights under this agreement,” or, “I intend to give my rights to Z,” or “I intend to confer an assignment on Z.” In addition,consideration,which is a bargained-for exchange required for a contract to be valid, is not required for assignment.
When is a Contract Assignment Prohibited?
In certain instances, an assignment of contract rights can be prohibited. If the contract contains a clause prohibiting assignment of “the contract,” without specifying more, the law construes this language as barring only delegation of the assignor’s duties, not their rights. If the assignment language states “assignment of contractual rights are prohibited,” the obligor may sue for damages if the assignor attempts to assign the agreement. If the contract language states that attempts to assign “will be void,” the parties can bar assignment.of rights.
Under modern contract law, the phrase “I assign the contract” is usually interpreted to mean that one is assigning rights and duties. What is an assignment of duties? An assignment of duties occurs where Y, called the obligor or delegator, promises to perform for X, the obligee. Y then delegates their duty to perform to Z, the delegate. Under the law, most duties can be delegated.
There are exceptions to this rule. Delegation can be prohibited when:
- The duties to be performed involve personal judgment and special skill (e.g., a portrait, creation of a custom-made dress).
- “Personal judgment” is the exercise of some kind of superior judgment when it comes to determining how, when, or where to do something. Examples of individuals who exercise personal judgment include talent scouts and financial advisors. Special skill is the unique ability to create a good or perform a service. A delegator can be prohibited from delegating duties when it is that specific delegator’s services are sought. For example, if the services of a specific famous chef are sought, and the original agreement was entered into on the understanding that the chef was hired for their specific talent, the delegator may not delegate the services;
- The assignment fundamentally changes risks or responsibilities under the agreement;
- The assignment is over future rights associated with a future contract that does not currently exist;
- Delegation would increase the obligation of the obligee. For example, if a shoe manufacturer contracts to deliver soles to a store in the same town as the shoe factory, the other party cannot assign the delivery to a different store in another state. Doing so would impose a greater obligation on the obligee than was originally contemplated;
- The obligee had placed special trust in the delegator. For example, assume that you have hired a patent attorney, based on that attorney’s significant skill and expertise, to obtain a valuable patent. You have placed special trust in this person, hiring them instead of other patent attorneys, because of their unique expertise. In such a situation, the attorney may not delegate his duties to another attorney (delegate), since the attorney was hired because of one person’s special capabilities;
- The delegation is of a promise to repay a debt; or
- The contract itself restricts or prohibits delegation. If the contract states, “any attempt to delegate duties under this contract is void,” a delegation will not be permitted.
Which Parties are Liable to Each Other in a Contract Assignment?
In a contract involving assignment of rights, the assignee may sue the obligor. This is because the assignee, once the assignee has been assigned rights, is entitled to performance under the contract. If the obligor had a defense that existed in the original contract between obligor and assignor, the obligor may assert that defense against the assignee. Examples of such defenses include the original contract was not valid because of lack of consideration, or because there was never a valid offer or acceptance).
An assignee may also sue an assignor. Generally, if an assignment is made for consideration,it is irrevocable. Assignments not made for consideration, but under which an obligor has already performed, are also irrevocable. If an assignor attempts to revoke an irrevocable assignment,the assignee may sue for “wrongful revocation.”
In circumstances involving delegation of duties,an obligee must accept performance from the delegate of all duties that may be delegated. The delegator remains liable on the agreement. Therefore, the obligee may sue the delegator for nonperformance by the delegate. The obligee may sue the delegate for nonperformance, but can only require the delegate to perform if there has been an assumption by the delegate. An assumption by the delegate is a promise that the delegate will perform the delegated duty, which promise is supported by consideration.
Are There Issues with Multiple Assignments?
Assignments that are not supported by consideration are revocable. If an initial assignment is revocable, a subsequent assignment can revoke it. If a first assignment is irrevocable, because consideration was present,the first assignment will usually prevail over a subsequent assignment. This means the person who can claim the assignment was first made to them will prevail over someone who claims a subsequent assignment.
If, however, the second person paid value for the assignment, and entered into the assignment without knowing of the first assignment, the “subsequent”assignee is entitled to proceeds the first judgment against the obligor (the original party who still must perform), in the event such a judgment is issued,
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Contract Assignments?
If you have an issue with assignment of rights or duties under a contract, you should contact a contract lawyer for advice. An experienced business lawyer near you can review the facts of your case, advise you of your rights, and represent you in court proceedings.
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Contract Assignment Agreement
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This Contract Assignment Agreement document is used to transfer rights and responsibilities under an original contract from one Party, known as the Assignor, to another, known as the Assignee. The Assignor who was a Party to the original contract can use this document to assign their rights under the original contract to the Assignee, as well as delegating their duties under the original contract to that Assignee. For example, a nanny who as contracted with a family to watch their children but is no longer able to due to a move could assign their rights and responsibilities under the original service contract to a new childcare provider.
How to use this document
Prior to using this document, the original contract is consulted to be sure that an assignment is not prohibited and that any necessary permissions from the other Party to the original contract, known as the Obligor, have been obtained. Once this has been done, the document can be used. The Agreement contains important information such as the identities of all parties to the Agreement, the expiration date (if any) of the original contract, whether the original contract requires the Obligor's consent before assigning rights and, if so, the form of consent that the Assignor obtained and when, and which state's laws will govern the interpretation of the Agreement.
If the Agreement involves the transfer of land from one Party to another , the document will include information about where the property is located, as well as space for the document to be recorded in the county's official records, and a notary page customized for the land's location so that the document can be notarized.
Once the document has been completed, it is signed, dated, and copies are given to all concerned parties , including the Assignor, the Assignee, and the Obligor. If the Agreement concerns the transfer of land, the Agreement is then notarized and taken to be recorded so that there is an official record that the property was transferred.
The assignment of contracts that involve the provision of services is governed by common law in the " Second Restatement of Contracts " (the "Restatement"). The Restatement is a non-binding authority in all of U.S common law in the area of contracts and commercial transactions. Though the Restatement is non-binding, it is frequently cited by courts in explaining their reasoning in interpreting contractual disputes.
The assignment of contracts for sale of goods is governed by the Uniform Commercial Code (the "UCC") in § 2-209 Modification, Rescission and Waiver .
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Other names for the document: Assignment Agreement, Assignment of Contract Agreement, Contract Assignment, Transfer of Contract Agreement, Transfer of Agreement
Country: United States
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Assignment of a Contract - Explained
What is Assignment and Delegation of a Contract?
Written by Jason Gordon
Updated at April 5th, 2023
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What is assignment and delegation of contracts?
Assignment is the transfer by one party of her right to receive performance from the other party to the contract. Delegation is the transfer by one party of her duties to perform under a contract.
Next Article: Duty of Performance Back to: CONTRACT LAW
How do you Assign or Delegate a Contract?
The rights under a contract can be assigned or the duties delegated through agreement between the assignor and assignee. Assignments/delegations can be a gift or an exchange for other value. In general, unless the contract deems otherwise, obligees may assign their rights or delegate their duties under the contract to third parties.
- Note : The assignor/delegator must give notice to the other party immediately upon assignment/delegation.
Writing Requirement - Assignments and delegations of common law contracts do not have to be in writing. Assignments of contracts for the sale of goods, however, must be in writing if the original contract was subject to the statute of frauds.
Non-Assignable/Delegable Contracts : Unless the agreement limits assignment of rights, most contracts are assignable. Delegation of duties pursuant to contract is more limited. The following contracts are not capable of delegation:
Material Changes of Responsibility - A contract that materially alters the obligors duties under the agreement is not transferable. Particularly, an assignment that greatly increases a partys delivery requirements cannot be assigned. Doing so may detriment the obligor who has to meet a new (and possibly more taxing) delivery schedule.
- Example : I sign a contract to supply all of the cement that your company needs. You are a small construction business with about $1 million per year in revenue. You attempt to assign the contract to ABC Corp, which is a large company with $10 million per year in revenue. If this will dramatically increase my supply requirements, it cannot be assigned without my consent.
Increases Burden or Risk - Generally, any contract that materially increases the other partys burden, risk, or ability to receive return performance is not delegable. As such, requirement contracts generally cannot be delegated because the producers duty depends on the individual output requirements of the purchaser.
- Example : I sign a contract to supply all of the cement that your company needs. You signed the contract with my company because of my reputation and ability to perform. I cannot then delegate the duties under the contract to another company without your consent. This could increase your risk of not receiving performance.
Special Skills - A party to a contract cannot delegate performance of duties under a contract when performance depends on the character, skill, or training of that party.
- Example : One singer cannot transfer her obligations under a contract to another singer if the other party depended upon the skill of that particular vocalist.
Multiple Assignments - A party can partially assign a contract or assign the same contract to multiple parties. Different jurisdictions follow different rules regarding the priority of the assignees. Some jurisdictions allow that the first assignee of a contract who gives notice to the obligor has priority over other assignees. Other jurisdictions follow the rule that the first assignee to receive assignment of a contract has priority to performance by the obligor. Still other jurisdictions follow the rule that the first assignee has priority, unless:
Purchaser in Good Faith for Value - If an assignee pays value for the assignment in good faith without notice of a prior assignment (and the prior assignee did not receive the assignment in good faith and for value), she has priority over prior assignments.
- Example : ABC Corp has a duty to deliver goods to me. I assign the right to receive the goods to 123 Corp as a gift. I later decide to assign the right to receive goods to XYZ Corp in exchange for $1,000. XYZ Corp has no knowledge of my prior assignment to 123 Corp. ABC Corp will have priority over 123 Corp, as 123 Corp did not pay anything for receiving the assignment.
Court Action - If an assignee receives a judgment against the obligor. If a court adjudicates the matter, the assignee winning at court may be vested with the authority to establish priority in performance of assigned rights.
- Example : I am a party to a contract with ABC Corp. I assign my rights under a contract to Tammy and later to June. Tammy sues me and ABC Corp to establish her priority regarding performance of the contract. The court may award priority to Tammy or June.
Novations - If the assignee executes a novation, the novation establishes priority. A novation is a new contract between individuals that replaces a party to the contract or obligations or rights under the agreement.
- Example : I am a party to a contract with ABC Corp. I assign my rights under a contract to Tammy and later to June. June enters into a novation agreement with ABC Corp that replaces me under the contract and establishes her as the obligee. June will have priority of performance above Tammy.
Written Assignment - If a later assignee receives a written assignment capable of transfer that is not in writing, she will have rights superior to those of an earlier assignee. Some agreements, such as assignments that are subject to the statute of frauds, are only capable of being assigned via a valid writing. If a prior assignment does not satisfy the statute of frauds, a subsequent transfer could take precedent. It is important to review the specific rules applicable to the specific jurisdiction when determining ones rights under an assigned contract.
- Example : I am party to a written contract to sell goods to ABC Corp. I verbally transfer my right to receive payment to Amy. I later transfer the right to receive payment to Zora in a written agreement. Zora may have priority over Amy.
Revoking an Assignment - A gratuitous (gift) assignment cannot be revoked if the assignment is made pursuant to a written document signed by the assignor. If no writing exists, revoking a gratuitous assignment that has not been performed is extremely easy (because no physical transfer has taken place). It can be revoked by an assignor later assigning the same right (the last assignment controls), the death or incapacity of the assignor, or by the delivery of notification of revocation to the assignee or obligor.
- Example : I verbally assign to you my rights to receive payment under a contract. I later tell you that I am revoking the assignment. This is effect to revoke the assignment because the original assignment was a gift and I did not make the assignment in writing.
Modification after Assignment - Generally, a contract cannot be modified after assignment. As previously discussed, once a contract has vested, the parties generally cannot modify the contract in a way that impairs the assignees rights. If, however, a modification does not affect the assignees rights, it may be modified.
- Example : I have the right under a contract with ABC Corp to receive payment. I transfer the right to receive payment to you. I later approach ABC Corp and alter my obligation to deliver goods on a specific date. If the alteration of my duties does not affect your rights as assignee, the alteration is not prohibited.
- Note : There is an exception in commercial contracts under the UCC that allows for modifications or substitutions in accordance with commercially acceptable standards. This allows for slight modifications that are within the expectations of the parties.
Continued Delegator Responsibilities - The party delegating the contract is still potentially liable under the contract if the delegatee fails to perform. If, however, the delegatee and the obligee under the contract enter into a novation, the delegator is relieved of responsibility.
- Example : I am obligated to perform services to ABC Corp. I delegate my responsibilities to you. If you fail to perform the consulting duties, ABC Corp can still sue me. If, however, you enter into a novation with ABC Corp that substitutes you for me in the original contract, your failure to perform does not affect me.
- Note : If the delegator expresses her intent to repudiate the contract upon assignment to the delegatee, there is an implied novation if the obligee does not object. Also, the delegatee will be liable under the contract if she expressly or impliedly accepts responsibility for performance.
Most of the above rules regarding assignment and delegation are capable of modification in a contract between the parties.
How do you feel about treating assignments of rights and delegation of duties under contracts differently? Which of the assignment priority rules do you believe is most fair to the parties? Why? Should a party be able to modify a contract after assigning her benefits?
Cleo is a party to a contract with ABC Corp to provide consulting services. Cleo verbally assigns her rights to receive payment to Austin. Cleo later verbally assigns her rights to receive payment to Steve. Austin complains to Cleo about her subsequent assignment. What can Austin do to establish his priority to receive payment from ABC Corp?
- A party to a contract may at any given time transfer their rights in the contract to another person or to multiple people. This transfer of rights by a party to a third party is referred to novation. However, the transfer of rights to multiple people works on the principle of priority, meaning that the first person to receive the rights from the party to the contract holds priority to the others who received the rights after them. In the event of a dispute arising from how to allocate the benefits of the transferred right, the person to whom the rights were transferred to first has a right to sue. In this scenario, if Austin does not receive payment from ABC Corp, he can sue the company. If he is a creditor beneficiary, he could also sue Cleo.
- Contract Law (Intro)
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- Adhesion Contract
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- Patent and Latent Ambiguity in a Contract
- Service Level Agreement Definition
- Offtake Agreement
- Security Interest in Assignment of Accounts Receivable or Contract Rights - Explained
- Unilateral and Bilateral Contracts - Explained
- Interpreting What a Contract Means
- Blank Endorsement - Explained
Real Estate Contracts
What is an assignment contract.
Assignment contracts are a vehicle used by real estate investors to transfer one party’s rights and obligations under an existing real estate contract to another party. Assignment contracts don’t involve transferring or selling the property directly like a purchase agreement. Instead, the buyer under the original purchase agreement (the assignor) assigns their rights and obligations under the purchase agreement to the assignee, sometimes for a profit. The assignee then becomes the buyer under the original real estate contract.
When Is an Assignment Contract Used?
In one scenario, a type of real estate investor called a wholesaler contracts with the current owner(s) of a distressed property that may be unsellable to average homebuyers. The wholesaler creates a purchase agreement with that owner to buy their property. The wholesaler then finds an end buyer who wants to take possession of the property. The assignment contract is then created to transfer the wholesaler’s rights and obligations under the original purchase agreement to the end buyer.
Elements of an Assignment Contract
- Assignor : the real estate wholesaler. This is the person who is the buyer under the original purchase agreement and who is selling or transferring their rights and obligations under that contract.
- Assignee : the end buyer. This is the person who is purchasing or receiving the assignor’s rights and obligations under the original purchase agreement and who would ultimately pay the purchase price (plus any assignment fee agreed to in the assignment contract) and take possession of the property.
- Description or identification of contract being assigned: a description of the original purchase agreement being assigned. Oftentimes, the assignment contract will also attach the original purchase agreement or state that it has been provided to the assignee.
- Subject property information: the property address, legal description, or property identification number/parcel number for the property that is the subject of the original purchase agreement.
- Assignment earnest money amount: like with other types of real estate contracts, earnest money shows the assignee is a serious buyer. The money helps ensure that the assignee won’t back out of the deal for frivolous reasons.
- Assignee’s purchase amount: the amount the end buyer agrees to pay that fulfills or exceeds the original purchase agreement amount.
- Assignment fee: the amount of money the assignor will make for finding an end buyer. The assignment fee should be clearly set forth in the assignment contract.
- Name of the company holding escrow : the assignment contract will designate what company is holding escrow. This escrow company should match the escrow company listed in the original purchase agreement or you will need an amendment to the original purchase agreement or, in states where it is permissible, a split escrow.
- Closing date: the date by which the transaction should be finalized. This should correspond to the original purchase agreement’s closing date. If a different date is used, an amendment to the original purchase agreement may be required.
- How assignment earnest money is handled : should one party cancel the contract or fail to meet the contractual obligations, the earnest money may either be forfeited by the assignee or returned. In instances of a dispute between the parties, the third party holding escrow may release the assignment earnest money pursuant to the terms and conditions of the assignment contract.
Writing a comprehensive assignment contract is a vital part of several real estate investing strategies. If you’re new to creating these kinds of contracts, be sure to get some legal advice before moving forward. Once you have a solid assignment contract template in place, transactions using this contracting tool will run more smoothly.
* The information provided on this site does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, financial, tax, or real estate advice. Please consult your expert for advice in those areas. All content is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide a complete description of the subject matter. Although Blueprint provides information it believes to be accurate, Blueprint makes no representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this site. Specific processes will vary based on applicable law. The title and closing process will be handled by a third-party attorney to the extent required by law. Product offerings vary by jurisdiction and are not available or solicited in any state where we are not licensed.
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