- Search Search Please fill out this field.
What Is an Assignable Contract?
Understanding assignable contracts, assignment of a futures contract, factors in the futures market, unwinding futures contracts, real estate assignment, example of an assignable contract.
- Futures and Commodities Trading
- Strategy & Education
Assignable Contract: Overview, Factors, Example
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Katrina Ávila Munichiello is an experienced editor, writer, fact-checker, and proofreader with more than fourteen years of experience working with print and online publications.
An assignable contract is a provision allowing the holder of a contract to transfer or give away the obligations and rights of the contract to another party or person before the contract's expiration date. The assignee would be entitled to take delivery of the underlying asset and receive all of the benefits of that contract before its expiry. However, the assignee must also fulfill any obligations or requirements of the contract.
Assignability may be found in some options and futures contracts. There are also assignable contracts in the real estate market that allow the transfer of property.
- An assignable contract has a provision allowing the holder to give away the obligations and rights of the contract to another party or person before the contract's expiration date.
- The assignee would be entitled to take delivery of the underlying asset and receive all of the benefits of that contract before its expiry.
- An assignment agreement can allow a bank or a mortgage company to sell or assign an outstanding mortgage loan.
Assignable contracts provide a way for current contract holders to close out their position, locking in profits or cutting losses, before the expiration date of the contract. Holders may assign their contracts if the current market price for the underlying asset allows them to realize a profit.
As mentioned earlier, not all contracts have an assignment provision, which is contained in the contract's terms. Also, an assignment doesn't always take away the assignor's risk and liability , because the original contract could require a guarantee that—whether assigned or not—the performance of all terms of the contract must be completed as required.
Owners of assignable futures contracts may opt to assign their holdings instead of selling them in the open market via an exchange. A futures contract is an obligation stating a buyer must purchase an asset, or a seller must sell an asset at a preset price and a predetermined date in the future.
Futures are standardized contracts with fixed prices, amounts, and expiration dates. Investors can use futures to speculate on the price of an asset such as crude oil. At expiration, speculators will book an offsetting trade and realize a gain or loss from the difference in the two contract amounts.
If an investor holds a futures contract and the holder finds that the security has appreciated by 1% on or before the closing of the contract, then the contract holder may decide to assign the contract to a third party for the appreciated amount. The initial holder would be paid in cash, realizing the profit from the contract before its expiration date. However, a buyer of an assigned contract can take a loss by paying an above-market price and risk overpaying for the asset.
Most futures contracts do not have an assignment provision. If you are interested in buying or selling a contract, make sure to carefully check its terms and conditions to see if it is assignable or not. Some contracts may prohibit assignment while other contracts may require the other party in the contract to consent to the assignment.
It's important to note that an assignment may be void if the terms of the contract change substantially or violate any laws or public policy.
A futures contract might be assigned if there was an above-market offer from the third party in an illiquid market where bid and ask spreads were wide. The bid-ask spread is the difference between the buy and sell prices. The spreads can be wide meaning there's an additional cost being added to the prices because there's not enough product to satisfy the order at a reasonable price.
Liquidity exists when there are enough buyers and sellers in the market to transact business. If the market is illiquid, a holder might not be able to find a buyer for the contract, or there might be a delay in unwinding the position.
An investor looking to buy the futures contract might offer an amount higher than the current market price in an illiquid environment. As a result, the current contract holder can assign the contract and realize a profit, and both parties benefit. However, unwinding or selling the contract outright is the cleaner solution, and it also guarantees that all liabilities concerning the contract's obligations are discharged.
However, holders of futures contracts don't need to assign the contract to another investor when they can unwind or close the position through a futures exchange. The exchange, or its clearing agent, would handle the clearing and payment functions. In other words, the futures contract can be closed before its expiration. The holder would incur any gains or loss depending on the difference between the purchase and sale prices.
An investor who assigns a futures contract can realize a profit from the contract before its expiry.
An investor might receive an above-market price for assigning a contract in an illiquid market.
Most futures contracts are not assignable.
A buyer of an assigned contract can take a loss by paying an above-market price for the asset.
An assignment agreement can allow a bank or a mortgage company to sell or assign an outstanding mortgage loan. The bank may sell the mortgage loan to a third party. The borrower would receive notice from the new bank or mortgage company servicing the debt with information on payment submission.
The terms of the loan, such as interest rate and duration, will remain the same for the borrower. However, the new bank would receive all of the interest and principal payments. Aside from the name on the check, there should be little difference noticed by the borrower.
Banks will assign loans to remove them as a liability on their balance sheets and allow them to underwrite new or additional loans.
Let's say an investor entered into a futures contract that contains an assignable clause in June to speculate on the price of crude oil, hoping the price will rise by year-end. The investor buys a December crude oil futures contract at $40, and since oil is traded in increments of 1,000 barrels, the investor's position is worth $40,000.
By August, the price of crude oil has risen to $60, and the investor decides to assign the contract to another buyer because the buyer was willing to pay $65 or $5 above market. The contract is assigned to the second buyer for $65, and the original buyer earns a profit of $25,000 (($65-$40) x 1000).
The new holder assumes all responsibilities of the contract and can profit if crude oil is trading above $65 by year-end, but also can lose if the oil trades below $65 by year-end.
- Terms of Service
- Editorial Policy
- Your Privacy Choices
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Assignable Contract: Everything You Need to Know
An assignable contract is an agreement that lets the owner of a particular asset transfer the rights and obligations to someone new. 3 min read
Updated July 13, 2020:
An assignable contract is an agreement that lets the owner of a particular asset transfer the rights and obligations to someone new. This new owner will reap the benefits of the assets before the contract closes. In most cases, assignable contracts are used in the futures market. However, not every contract in the futures market is assignable, so you need to pay close attention if you are planning to invest in this way.
Examples of Assignable Contracts
To better understand how assignable contracts work, here are three examples that show how a contract holder can lock in a profit before the contract expires.
- Mary Beth is a coffee trader and has a contract to buy from a certain producer for a set price until the end of June. Because of poor growing conditions, the price of coffee has gone way up, meaning that Mary Beth is underpaying and can make a big profit if she sells her coffee purchasing rights. Therefore, she sells her contract to someone else, and this other party now holds the value of the contract until it expires in June.
- Another example is an investor that has a futures contract. If the security on this contract appreciates before the contract expires, the investor may wish to assign the contract to someone else. This way, they'll be able to make a profit on the appreciation.
- A third example is in the corn industry. If you have a contract to buy corn at a certain locked in price, and the cost of corn increases, you can easily sell your contract to someone else. They'll pay you in cash, and from that point forward, they'll be responsible for any responsibilities of the contract until it expires.
Assignable Contract and Real Estate Investments
Assignable contracts are a great tool in real estate investments because they allow you to pass your purchase rights along to anyone you might choose.
In a typical purchase contract , you'd be limited to rehabbing the home, renting it, flipping it, or other strategies that involve assuming ownership of the home.
However, with an assignable contract, you can immediately pass ownership to someone else without ever technically buying it yourself. This process means you'll be passing along your purchasing rights as well as any obligations outlined in the initial purchase contract. After transferring over all of this, you'll no longer be involved in the transaction at all. Whoever you assigned the contract will now be in charge of:
- Making sure the deal closes
- Actually buying the property
- Making any claims against the seller if there are problems
If you were looking to make a profit through an assignable contract, there is one downfall. You'll have to wait until the deal closes to collect your fee.
Therefore, it's crucial you choose buyers who are serious and ready to close. To make money off the deal, find a property you know someone will like and then charge them a referral fee for your involvement in the process.
This is a foolproof process, as you never have to put up any collateral or down-payment for the mortgage. Instead, all you have to do is pay a money deposit for the initial contract to go through.
Converting a normal real estate purchase contract into an assignable one is easy. All you have to do is add a few extra words to indicate the nature of the contract. For example, under the "Buyer" part, where you typically list your name, simply add the phrase "and/or assigns." That way, you can transfer ownership to anyone you'd like without having to alter or rewrite the contract.
Tips for Making the Most of Assignable Contracts in Real Estate
If you'd like to use the assignable contract method to make a profit , here are some tips to utilize.
- Know who your buyers are before you begin, as this lowers the inherent risk.
- Build an active investor buyer list so that when a property comes up, you have a good selection of candidates to offer it to.
- Include both rental property investors as well as flippers on your list.
- Learn to locate great property deals before they hit the general market.
If you need help with an assignable contract, 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.
Hire the top business lawyers and save up to 60% on legal fees
Content Approved by UpCounsel
- Main Types Of Contracts
- What is a Contract for Services
- How to Break a Legal Contract
- Contract Loopholes
- Contract Rescission Letter
- Exclusive Rights Contract
- How to Draft a Contract
- Why Do You Need a Contract
- How to Write a Contract Agreement
- Administering Contracts
Assignment of Contract
Jump to section, need help with a contract agreement, what is an assignment of contract.
An assignment of contract is a legal term that describes the process that occurs when an existing contract assignee wishes to transfer their contractual obligations to another party. When an assignment of contract happens, the original party is relieved of their contractual duties, and their role is replaced by the approved incoming party.
How Does Assignment of Contract Work?
An assignment of contract is simpler than you might think.
The process starts with an existing contract party who wishes to transfer their contractual obligations to a new party.
When this occurs, the existing contract party must first confirm that an assignment of contract is permissible under the legally binding agreement. Some contracts prohibit assignments of contract altogether, and some require the other parties of the agreement to agree to the transfer.
In other cases, some contracts allow an assignment of contract without any formal notification to other contract parties. If this is the case, once the existing contract party decides to reassign his duties, he must create a “Letter of Assignment” to notify any other contract signers of the change.
The Letter of Assignment must include details about who is to take over the contractual obligations of the exiting party and when the transfer will take place. It must also be signed by both the incoming and outgoing parties.
Check out this article to learn more about how assigning a contract works.
Contract Assignment Examples
Contract assignments are great tools for contract parties to use when they wish to transfer their commitments to a third party. Here are some examples of contract assignments to help you better understand them:
Anna signs a contract with a local trash company that entitles her to have her trash picked up twice a week. A year later, the trash company transferred her contract to a new trash service provider. This contract assignment effectively makes Anna’s contract now with the new service provider.
Hasina enters a contract with a national phone company for cell phone service. The company goes into bankruptcy and needs to close its doors but decides to transfer all current contracts to another provider who agrees to honor the same rates and level of service. The contract assignment is completed, and Hasina now has a contract with the new phone company as a result.
Here is an article where you can find out more about contract assignments.
Assignment of Contract in Real Estate
Assignment of contract is also used in real estate to make money without going the well-known routes of buying and flipping houses. When real estate LLC investors use an assignment of contract, they can make money off properties without ever actually buying them by instead opting to transfer real estate contracts.
This process is called real estate wholesaling.
Real Estate Wholesaling
Real estate wholesaling consists of locating deals on houses that you don’t plan to buy but instead plan to enter a contract to reassign the house to another buyer and pocket the profit.
The process is simple: real estate wholesalers negotiate purchase contracts with sellers. Then, they present these contracts to buyers who pay them an assignment fee for transferring the contract.
This process works because a real estate purchase agreement does not come with the obligation to buy a property. Instead, it sets forth certain purchasing parameters that must be fulfilled by the buyer of the property. In a nutshell, whoever signs the purchase contract has the right to buy the property, but those rights can usually be transferred by means of an assignment of contract.
This means that as long as the buyer who’s involved in the assignment of contract agrees with the purchasing terms, they can legally take over the contract.
But how do real estate wholesalers find these properties?
It is easier than you might think. Here are a few examples of ways that wholesalers find cheap houses to turn a profit on:
- Direct mailers
- Place newspaper ads
- Make posts in online forums
- Social media posts
The key to finding the perfect home for an assignment of contract is to locate sellers that are looking to get rid of their properties quickly. This might be a family who is looking to relocate for a job opportunity or someone who needs to make repairs on a home but can’t afford it. Either way, the quicker the wholesaler can close the deal, the better.
Once a property is located, wholesalers immediately go to work getting the details ironed out about how the sale will work. Transparency is key when it comes to wholesaling. This means that when a wholesaler intends to use an assignment of contract to transfer the rights to buy to another person, they are always upfront about during the preliminary phases of the sale.
In addition to this practice just being good business, it makes sure the process goes as smoothly as possible later down the line. Wholesalers are clear in their intent and make sure buyers know that the contract could be transferred to another buyer before the closing date arrives.
After their offer is accepted and warranties are determined, wholesalers move to complete a title search . Title searches ensure that sellers have the right to enter into a purchase agreement on the property. They do this by searching for any outstanding tax payments, liens , or other roadblocks that could prevent the sale from going through.
Wholesalers also often work with experienced real estate lawyers who ensure that all of the legal paperwork is forthcoming and will stand up in court. Lawyers can also assist in the contract negotiation process if needed but often don’t come in until the final stages.
If the title search comes back clear and the real estate lawyer gives the green light, the wholesaler will immediately move to locate an entity to transfer the rights to buy.
One of the most attractive advantages of real estate wholesaling is that very little money is needed to get started. The process of finding a seller, negotiating a price, and performing a title search is an extremely cheap process that almost anyone can do.
On the other hand, it is not always a positive experience. It can be hard for wholesalers to find sellers who will agree to sell their homes for less than the market value. Even when they do, there is always a chance that the transferred buyer will back out of the sale, which leaves wholesalers obligated to either purchase the property themselves or scramble to find a new person to complete an assignment of contract with.
Learn more about assignment of contract in real estate by checking out this article .
Who Handles Assignment of Contract?
The best person to handle an assignment of contract is an attorney. Since these are detailed legal documents that deal with thousands of dollars, it is never a bad idea to have a professional on your side. If you need help with an assignment of contract or signing a business contract, post a project on ContractsCounsel. There, you can connect with attorneys who know everything there is to know about assignment of contract amendment and can walk you through the whole process.
Meet some of our Lawyers
Ryan Duffy is a skilled attorney with extensive experience in business law and estate planning. He received his undergraduate degree in Business from Franklin & Marshall College and went on to graduate from Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ryan has worked with numerous clients on matters ranging from business formation and contract drafting to estate planning and asset protection. He is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes achieve their goals while minimizing legal risks. He also works closely with individuals and families to help them protect their assets and plan for the future. With his extensive knowledge and practical approach, Ryan can provide valuable legal guidance and support to clients in need of business law and estate planning services.
⛵AJ has practiced in entertainment, technology, intellectual property, data privacy and protection, a broad array of domestic and international transactions, finance, and as outside General Counsel for startup and growth companies.
I offer top-tier legal expertise in startups, corporate governance, and general legal research. As a professor and published author of research articles and conference presentations, I have established myself as a legal expert, writer, and scholar. My strong research skills and innovative thinking make me a highly capable business consultant, legal adviser, and copywriter. Currently a member of the Minnesota bar. Recent freelance projects include business plans, contract drafting, legal advisory memoranda, due diligence, pre-trial motion practice, and discovery review.
Hamilton College, BA 1974, University of Kansas, PhD 1980, USC Gould School of Law, JD 1986. Mr. Bordy represents clients in real estate and business transactions. He has conducted seminars and webinars in real estate financing transactions, commercial leasing transactions, legal opinions and business entity formation.
Sorry to toot my own horn, but I'm not your average lawyer. I graduated in the TOP 1% of my class from one of the nation's top law schools (Berkeley Law). I received eight awards for the HIGHEST GRADE in individual courses, including Constitutional Law, Advanced Legal Research, and Advanced Legal Writing. I worked for three years at a top-flight litigation boutique, where my clients included billion-dollar, household-name companies. I started my own law firm two years ago. Why? Because I wanted to help REAL PEOPLE, not just big companies I win big cases on behalf of people who were done wrong by businesses, employers, and others In short, I am an ELITE LITIGATOR. There's not a lawyer on the planet better suited to advise you than me. Let's go get justice, together.
I am an experienced business coordinator with years of experience operating within an international setting where I discovered my passion for contracts and helping people. I became an attorney later in life to further and enhance these passions and to be able to help those in similar positions as I was find the legal help they need, and work with clients on a rate that is a fraction of the cost of going to a larger firm.
General corporate attorney specializing in commercial contracting and data privacy.
Find the best lawyer for your project
Contract lawyers by city.
- Atlanta Contracts Lawyers
- Austin Contracts Lawyers
- Boston Contracts Lawyers
- Chicago Contracts Lawyers
- Dallas Contracts Lawyers
- Denver Contracts Lawyers
- Fort Lauderdale Contracts Lawyers
- Houston Contracts Lawyers
- Las Vegas Contracts Lawyers
- Los Angeles Contracts Lawyers
- Memphis Contracts Lawyers
- Miami Contracts Lawyers
- New York Contracts Lawyers
- Oklahoma City Contracts Lawyers
- Orlando Contracts Lawyers
- Philadelphia Contracts Lawyers
- Phoenix Contracts Lawyers
- Richmond Contracts Lawyers
- Salt Lake City Contracts Lawyers
- San Antonio Contracts Lawyers
- San Diego Contracts Lawyers
- San Francisco Contracts Lawyers
- Seattle Contracts Lawyers
- Tampa Contracts Lawyers
ASSIGNMENT OF CONTRACT LAWYERS BY CITY
- Atlanta Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Austin Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Boston Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Chicago Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Dallas Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Denver Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Fort Lauderdale Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Houston Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Las Vegas Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Los Angeles Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Memphis Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Miami Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- New York Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Oklahoma City Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Orlando Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Philadelphia Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Phoenix Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Richmond Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Salt Lake City Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- San Antonio Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- San Diego Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- San Francisco Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Seattle Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
- Tampa Assignment Of Contract Lawyers
other helpful articles
- How much does it cost to draft a contract?
- Do Contract Lawyers Use Templates?
- How do Contract Lawyers charge?
- Business Contract Lawyers: How Can They Help?
- What to look for when hiring a lawyer
Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.
Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.
I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.
I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.
How It Works
Post Your Project
Get Free Bids to Compare
Hire Your Lawyer
Want to speak to someone?
Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!
Find lawyers and attorneys by city
If you still have questions or prefer to get help directly from an agent, please submit a request. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Please fill out the contact form below and we will reply as soon as possible.
- Law, Transactions, & Risk Management
- Commercial Law: Contract, Payments, Security Interests, & Bankruptcy
Assignment of a Contract - Explained
What is Assignment and Delegation of a Contract?
Written by Jason Gordon
Updated at April 5th, 2023
- Marketing, Advertising, Sales & PR Principles of Marketing Sales Advertising Public Relations SEO, Social Media, Direct Marketing
- Accounting, Taxation, and Reporting Managerial & Financial Accounting & Reporting Business Taxation
- Professionalism & Career Development
- Law, Transactions, & Risk Management Government, Legal System, Administrative Law, & Constitutional Law Legal Disputes - Civil & Criminal Law Agency Law HR, Employment, Labor, & Discrimination Business Entities, Corporate Governance & Ownership Business Transactions, Antitrust, & Securities Law Real Estate, Personal, & Intellectual Property Commercial Law: Contract, Payments, Security Interests, & Bankruptcy Consumer Protection Insurance & Risk Management Immigration Law Environmental Protection Law Inheritance, Estates, and Trusts
- Business Management & Operations Operations, Project, & Supply Chain Management Strategy, Entrepreneurship, & Innovation Business Ethics & Social Responsibility Global Business, International Law & Relations Business Communications & Negotiation Management, Leadership, & Organizational Behavior
- Economics, Finance, & Analytics Economic Analysis & Monetary Policy Research, Quantitative Analysis, & Decision Science Investments, Trading, and Financial Markets Banking, Lending, and Credit Industry Business Finance, Personal Finance, and Valuation Principles
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)
- What is a Contract?
- Contract Theory Definition
- Meeting of the Minds
- Doctrine of Utmost Good Faith
- Aleatory Contract Definition
- What are the sources of contract law?
- Restatement of Contracts
- Uniform Commercial Code
- Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
- What is a Unilateral Contract vs a Bilateral Contract?
- What is an Express Contract vs an Implied Contract?
- What are the requirements to form a Contract (Offer, Acceptance, Consideration)?
- What is an Enforceable Contract vs. a Valid Contract?
- What is a Void Contract vs a Voidable Contract?
- Adhesion Contract
- What is Mental Capacity to contract?
- What is the requirement of a Lawful Purpose?
- What are common types of Voidable Contract?
- What is an Offer?
- Sum Certain (Contracts) Definition
- When does an offer to contact terminate?
- Counterparty Definition
- Mirror Image Rule?
- Rule for Sale of Goods
- Silence is Not Acceptance ?
- Mailbox Rule
- Shrink-wrap Agreement Definition
- Click-Wrap Agreement Definition
- What is Consideration?
- What is Promissory Estoppel?
- When is a contract required to be in writing Statute of Frauds?
- What type of writing satisfies the statute of frauds?
- Exceptions to the Statute of Fraud
- Documents Under Seal
- Who Can Sign Contracts on Behalf of a Company?
- Privity of Contract
- Who are third-party beneficiaries to a contract?
- What is assignment and delegation of a contract?
- When is a party's Duty of performance?
- Aleatory Contract
- What is an Executed contract vs an Executory contract?
- Inchoate Definition
- Evergreen Contract
- What is Performance, Substantial Performance, and Breach of a contract?
- What is performance of a Divisible Contract?
- When is a party's duty of performance discharged?
- What are conditions to Contract (Precedent & Subsequent)?
- Abandonment Option (Contract) Definition
- Cooling Off Rule Definition
- What is tender performance of a contract?
- What are Impossibility and Impracticability
- What is a Frustration of Purpose?
- Waiver or Release from Contract
- Accord and Satisfaction
- Force Majeure Clause
- What is a Breach of Contract?
- Repudiation (Contract) Definition
- Anticipatory Repudiation
- Acceleration Clause (Contracts) Definition
- What methods exist for resolving a breach?
- What remedies exist for a breach of contract?
- Rescission (Contract)
- Exculpatory Clause
- Hold Harmless Clause
- What is Efficient Breach?
- Organization of a Contract
- How to Read the Contract
- Contract Representations & Warranties
- Contract Covenants
- What rules does a court follow in interpreting a contract?
- Allonge Definition
- What is the Parol Evidence Rule?
- What is a complete integration vs a partial integration?
- Exceptions to the Parol Evidence Rule
- 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
14.1 Assignment of Contract Rights
- Understand what an assignment is and how it is made.
- Recognize the effect of the assignment.
- Know when assignments are not allowed.
- Understand the concept of assignor’s warranties.
The Concept of a Contract Assignment
Contracts create rights and duties. By an assignment The passing or delivering by one person to another of the right to a contract benefit. , an obligee One to whom an obligation is owed. (one who has the right to receive a contract benefit) transfers a right to receive a contract benefit owed by the obligor One who owes an obligation. (the one who has a duty to perform) to a third person ( assignee One to whom the right to receive benefit of a contract is passed or delivered. ); the obligee then becomes an assignor One who agrees to allow another to receive the benefit of a contract. (one who makes an assignment).
The Restatement (Second) of Contracts defines an assignment of a right as “a manifestation of the assignor’s intention to transfer it by virtue of which the assignor’s right to performance by the obligor is extinguished in whole or in part and the assignee acquires the right to such performance.” Restatement (Second) of Contracts, Section 317(1). The one who makes the assignment is both an obligee and a transferor. The assignee acquires the right to receive the contractual obligations of the promisor, who is referred to as the obligor (see Figure 14.1 "Assignment of Rights" ). The assignor may assign any right unless (1) doing so would materially change the obligation of the obligor, materially burden him, increase his risk, or otherwise diminish the value to him of the original contract; (2) statute or public policy forbids the assignment; or (3) the contract itself precludes assignment. The common law of contracts and Articles 2 and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) govern assignments. Assignments are an important part of business financing, such as factoring. A factor A person who pays money to receive another’s executory contractual benefits. is one who purchases the right to receive income from another.
Figure 14.1 Assignment of Rights
Method of Assignment
To effect an assignment, the assignor must make known his intention to transfer the rights to the third person. The assignor’s intention must be that the assignment is effective without need of any further action or any further manifestation of intention to make the assignment. In other words, the assignor must intend and understand himself to be making the assignment then and there; he is not promising to make the assignment sometime in the future.
Under the UCC, any assignments of rights in excess of $5,000 must be in writing, but otherwise, assignments can be oral and consideration is not required: the assignor could assign the right to the assignee for nothing (not likely in commercial transactions, of course). Mrs. Franklin has the right to receive $750 a month from the sale of a house she formerly owned; she assigns the right to receive the money to her son Jason, as a gift. The assignment is good, though such a gratuitous assignment is usually revocable, which is not the case where consideration has been paid for an assignment.
Acceptance and Revocation
For the assignment to become effective, the assignee must manifest his acceptance under most circumstances. This is done automatically when, as is usually the case, the assignee has given consideration for the assignment (i.e., there is a contract between the assignor and the assignee in which the assignment is the assignor’s consideration), and then the assignment is not revocable without the assignee’s consent. Problems of acceptance normally arise only when the assignor intends the assignment as a gift. Then, for the assignment to be irrevocable, either the assignee must manifest his acceptance or the assignor must notify the assignee in writing of the assignment.
Notice to the obligor is not required, but an obligor who renders performance to the assignor without notice of the assignment (that performance of the contract is to be rendered now to the assignee) is discharged. Obviously, the assignor cannot then keep the consideration he has received; he owes it to the assignee. But if notice is given to the obligor and she performs to the assignor anyway, the assignee can recover from either the obligor or the assignee, so the obligor could have to perform twice, as in Exercise 2 at the chapter’s end, Aldana v. Colonial Palms Plaza . Of course, an obligor who receives notice of the assignment from the assignee will want to be sure the assignment has really occurred. After all, anybody could waltz up to the obligor and say, “I’m the assignee of your contract with the bank. From now on, pay me the $500 a month, not the bank.” The obligor is entitled to verification of the assignment.
Effect of Assignment
An assignment of rights effectively makes the assignee stand in the shoes of An assignee takes no greater rights than his assignor had. the assignor. He gains all the rights against the obligor that the assignor had, but no more. An obligor who could avoid the assignor’s attempt to enforce the rights could avoid a similar attempt by the assignee. Likewise, under UCC Section 9-318(1), the assignee of an account is subject to all terms of the contract between the debtor and the creditor-assignor. Suppose Dealer sells a car to Buyer on a contract where Buyer is to pay $300 per month and the car is warranted for 50,000 miles. If the car goes on the fritz before then and Dealer won’t fix it, Buyer could fix it for, say, $250 and deduct that $250 from the amount owed Dealer on the next installment (called a setoff). Now, if Dealer assigns the contract to Assignee, Assignee stands in Dealer’s shoes, and Buyer could likewise deduct the $250 from payment to Assignee.
The “shoe rule” does not apply to two types of assignments. First, it is inapplicable to the sale of a negotiable instrument to a holder in due course. Second, the rule may be waived: under the UCC and at common law, the obligor may agree in the original contract not to raise defenses against the assignee that could have been raised against the assignor. Uniform Commercial Code, Section 9-206. While a waiver of defenses Surrender by a party of legal rights otherwise available to him or her. makes the assignment more marketable from the assignee’s point of view, it is a situation fraught with peril to an obligor, who may sign a contract without understanding the full import of the waiver. Under the waiver rule, for example, a farmer who buys a tractor on credit and discovers later that it does not work would still be required to pay a credit company that purchased the contract; his defense that the merchandise was shoddy would be unavailing (he would, as used to be said, be “having to pay on a dead horse”).
For that reason, there are various rules that limit both the holder in due course and the waiver rule. Certain defenses, the so-called real defenses (infancy, duress, and fraud in the execution, among others), may always be asserted. Also, the waiver clause in the contract must have been presented in good faith, and if the assignee has actual notice of a defense that the buyer or lessee could raise, then the waiver is ineffective. Moreover, in consumer transactions, the UCC’s rule is subject to state laws that protect consumers (people buying things used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes), and many states, by statute or court decision, have made waivers of defenses ineffective in such consumer transactions A contract for household or domestic purposes, not commercial purposes. . Federal Trade Commission regulations also affect the ability of many sellers to pass on rights to assignees free of defenses that buyers could raise against them. Because of these various limitations on the holder in due course and on waivers, the “shoe rule” will not govern in consumer transactions and, if there are real defenses or the assignee does not act in good faith, in business transactions as well.
When Assignments Are Not Allowed
The general rule—as previously noted—is that most contract rights are assignable. But there are exceptions. Five of them are noted here.
Material Change in Duties of the Obligor
When an assignment has the effect of materially changing the duties that the obligor must perform, it is ineffective. Changing the party to whom the obligor must make a payment is not a material change of duty that will defeat an assignment, since that, of course, is the purpose behind most assignments. Nor will a minor change in the duties the obligor must perform defeat the assignment.
Several residents in the town of Centerville sign up on an annual basis with the Centerville Times to receive their morning paper. A customer who is moving out of town may assign his right to receive the paper to someone else within the delivery route. As long as the assignee pays for the paper, the assignment is effective; the only relationship the obligor has to the assignee is a routine delivery in exchange for payment. Obligors can consent in the original contract, however, to a subsequent assignment of duties. Here is a clause from the World Team Tennis League contract: “It is mutually agreed that the Club shall have the right to sell, assign, trade and transfer this contract to another Club in the League, and the Player agrees to accept and be bound by such sale, exchange, assignment or transfer and to faithfully perform and carry out his or her obligations under this contract as if it had been entered into by the Player and such other Club.” Consent is not necessary when the contract does not involve a personal relationship.
Assignment of Personal Rights
When it matters to the obligor who receives the benefit of his duty to perform under the contract, then the receipt of the benefit is a personal right The right or duty of a particular person to perform or receive contract duties or benefits; cannot be assigned. that cannot be assigned. For example, a student seeking to earn pocket money during the school year signs up to do research work for a professor she admires and with whom she is friendly. The professor assigns the contract to one of his colleagues with whom the student does not get along. The assignment is ineffective because it matters to the student (the obligor) who the person of the assignee is. An insurance company provides auto insurance covering Mohammed Kareem, a sixty-five-year-old man who drives very carefully. Kareem cannot assign the contract to his seventeen-year-old grandson because it matters to the insurance company who the person of its insured is. Tenants usually cannot assign (sublet) their tenancies without the landlord’s permission because it matters to the landlord who the person of their tenant is. Section 14.4.1 "Nonassignable Rights" , Nassau Hotel Co. v. Barnett & Barse Corp. , is an example of the nonassignability of a personal right.
Assignment Forbidden by Statute or Public Policy
Various federal and state laws prohibit or regulate some contract assignment. The assignment of future wages is regulated by state and federal law to protect people from improvidently denying themselves future income because of immediate present financial difficulties. And even in the absence of statute, public policy might prohibit some assignments.
Contracts That Prohibit Assignment
Assignability of contract rights is useful, and prohibitions against it are not generally favored. Many contracts contain general language that prohibits assignment of rights or of “the contract.” Both the Restatement and UCC Section 2-210(3) declare that in the absence of any contrary circumstances, a provision in the agreement that prohibits assigning “the contract” bars “only the delegation to the assignee of the assignor’s performance.” Restatement (Second) of Contracts, Section 322. In other words, unless the contract specifically prohibits assignment of any of its terms, a party is free to assign anything except his or her own duties.
Even if a contractual provision explicitly prohibits it, a right to damages for breach of the whole contract is assignable under UCC Section 2-210(2) in contracts for goods. Likewise, UCC Section 9-318(4) invalidates any contract provision that prohibits assigning sums already due or to become due. Indeed, in some states, at common law, a clause specifically prohibiting assignment will fail. For example, the buyer and the seller agree to the sale of land and to a provision barring assignment of the rights under the contract. The buyer pays the full price, but the seller refuses to convey. The buyer then assigns to her friend the right to obtain title to the land from the seller. The latter’s objection that the contract precludes such an assignment will fall on deaf ears in some states; the assignment is effective, and the friend may sue for the title.
The law distinguishes between assigning future rights under an existing contract and assigning rights that will arise from a future contract. Rights contingent on a future event can be assigned in exactly the same manner as existing rights, as long as the contingent rights are already incorporated in a contract. Ben has a long-standing deal with his neighbor, Mrs. Robinson, to keep the latter’s walk clear of snow at twenty dollars a snowfall. Ben is saving his money for a new printer, but when he is eighty dollars shy of the purchase price, he becomes impatient and cajoles a friend into loaning him the balance. In return, Ben assigns his friend the earnings from the next four snowfalls. The assignment is effective. However, a right that will arise from a future contract cannot be the subject of a present assignment.
An assignor may assign part of a contractual right, but only if the obligor can perform that part of his contractual obligation separately from the remainder of his obligation. Assignment of part of a payment due is always enforceable. However, if the obligor objects, neither the assignor nor the assignee may sue him unless both are party to the suit. Mrs. Robinson owes Ben one hundred dollars. Ben assigns fifty dollars of that sum to his friend. Mrs. Robinson is perplexed by this assignment and refuses to pay until the situation is explained to her satisfaction. The friend brings suit against Mrs. Robinson. The court cannot hear the case unless Ben is also a party to the suit. This ensures all parties to the dispute are present at once and avoids multiple lawsuits.
It may happen that an assignor assigns the same interest twice (see Figure 14.2 "Successive Assignments" ). With certain exceptions, the first assignee takes precedence over any subsequent assignee. One obvious exception is when the first assignment is ineffective or revocable. A subsequent assignment has the effect of revoking a prior assignment that is ineffective or revocable. Another exception: if in good faith the subsequent assignee gives consideration for the assignment and has no knowledge of the prior assignment, he takes precedence whenever he obtains payment from, performance from, or a judgment against the obligor, or whenever he receives some tangible evidence from the assignor that the right has been assigned (e.g., a bank deposit book or an insurance policy).
Some states follow the different English rule: the first assignee to give notice to the obligor has priority, regardless of the order in which the assignments were made. Furthermore, if the assignment falls within the filing requirements of UCC Article 9, the first assignee to file will prevail.
Figure 14.2 Successive Assignments
An assignor has legal responsibilities in making assignments. He cannot blithely assign the same interests pell-mell and escape liability. Unless the contract explicitly states to the contrary, a person who assigns a right for value makes certain assignor’s warranties Promises, express or implied, made by an assignor to the assignee about the merits of the assignment. to the assignee: that he will not upset the assignment, that he has the right to make it, and that there are no defenses that will defeat it. However, the assignor does not guarantee payment; assignment does not by itself amount to a warranty that the obligor is solvent or will perform as agreed in the original contract. Mrs. Robinson owes Ben fifty dollars. Ben assigns this sum to his friend. Before the friend collects, Ben releases Mrs. Robinson from her obligation. The friend may sue Ben for the fifty dollars. Or again, if Ben represents to his friend that Mrs. Robinson owes him (Ben) fifty dollars and assigns his friend that amount, but in fact Mrs. Robinson does not owe Ben that much, then Ben has breached his assignor’s warranty. The assignor’s warranties may be express or implied.
Generally, it is OK for an obligee to assign the right to receive contractual performance from the obligor to a third party. The effect of the assignment is to make the assignee stand in the shoes of the assignor, taking all the latter’s rights and all the defenses against nonperformance that the obligor might raise against the assignor. But the obligor may agree in advance to waive defenses against the assignee, unless such waiver is prohibited by law.
There are some exceptions to the rule that contract rights are assignable. Some, such as personal rights, are not circumstances where the obligor’s duties would materially change, cases where assignability is forbidden by statute or public policy, or, with some limits, cases where the contract itself prohibits assignment. Partial assignments and successive assignments can happen, and rules govern the resolution of problems arising from them.
When the assignor makes the assignment, that person makes certain warranties, express or implied, to the assignee, basically to the effect that the assignment is good and the assignor knows of no reason why the assignee will not get performance from the obligor.
- If Able makes a valid assignment to Baker of his contract to receive monthly rental payments from Tenant, how is Baker’s right different from what Able’s was?
- Able made a valid assignment to Baker of his contract to receive monthly purchase payments from Carr, who bought an automobile from Able. The car had a 180-day warranty, but the car malfunctioned within that time. Able had quit the auto business entirely. May Carr withhold payments from Baker to offset the cost of needed repairs?
- Assume in the case in Exercise 2 that Baker knew Able was selling defective cars just before his (Able’s) withdrawal from the auto business. How, if at all, does that change Baker’s rights?
- Why are leases generally not assignable? Why are insurance contracts not assignable?
- Practical Law
- Free trial Free trial
- Sign in Sign in
Practical Law UK Glossary 1-107-6442 (Approx. 4 pages)
- Lending: General
- After Death
- General Contract and Boilerplate
- Security and Quasi Security
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 ]
- business law
- landlord & tenant
- property & real estate law
- trusts, inheritances & estates
- wex definitions