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A transfer of rights in real property or Personal Property to another that gives the recipient—the transferee—the rights that the owner or holder of the property—the transferor—had prior to the transfer.
An assignment of wages is the transfer of the right to collect wages from the wage earner to his or her creditor. Statutes regulate the extent to which an assignment may be made.
n. the act of transferring an interest in property or a some right (such as contract benefits) to another. It is used commonly by lawyers, accountants, business people, title companies and others dealing with property. (See: assign )
ASSIGNMENT, contracts. In common parlance this word signifies the transfer of all kinds of property, real, personal, and mixed, and whether the same be in possession or in action; as, a general assignment. In a more technical sense it Is usually applied to the transfer of a term for years; but it is more properly used to signify a transfer of some particular estate or interest in lands. 2. The proper technical words of an assignment are, assign, transfer, and set over; but the words grant, bargain, and sell, or any other words which will show the intent of the parties to make a complete transfer, will amount to an assignment. 3. A chose in action cannot be assigned at law, though it may be done in equity; but the assignee takes it subject to all the equity to which it was liable in the hands of the original party. 2 John. Ch. Rep. 443, and the cases there cited. 2 Wash. Rep. 233. 4. The deed by which an assignment is made,, is also called an assignment. Vide, generally, Com. Dig. h.t.; Bac. Ab. h.t. Vin. Ab. h.t.; Nelson's Ab. h.t.; Civ. Code of Louis. art. 2612. In relation to general assignments, see Angell on Assignments, passim; 1 Hate & Wall. Sel. Dec. 78- 85. 5. By an assignment of a right all the accessories which belong to it, will pass with it as, if the assignor of a bond had collateral security, or a lien on property, the collateral security and the lien will pass with the assignment of the bond. 2 Penn. 361; 3 Bibb, 291; 4 B. Munroe, 529; 2 Drev. n. 218; 1 P. St. R. 454. 6. The assignment of a thing also carries with it all that belongs to it by right of accession; if, therefore, the thing produce interest or rent, the interest or the arrearages of the rent since the assignment, will belong to the assignee. 7 John. Cas. 90 6 Pick. 360.
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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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Definition of assignment
task , duty , job , chore , stint , assignment mean a piece of work to be done.
task implies work imposed by a person in authority or an employer or by circumstance.
duty implies an obligation to perform or responsibility for performance.
job applies to a piece of work voluntarily performed; it may sometimes suggest difficulty or importance.
chore implies a minor routine activity necessary for maintaining a household or farm.
stint implies a carefully allotted or measured quantity of assigned work or service.
assignment implies a definite limited task assigned by one in authority.
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'assignment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
see assign entry 1
14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1
Phrases Containing assignment
- self - assignment
Dictionary Entries Near assignment
Cite this entry.
“Assignment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assignment. Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.
Legal definition of assignment, more from merriam-webster on assignment.
Nglish: Translation of assignment for Spanish Speakers
Britannica English: Translation of assignment for Arabic Speakers
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