Assignment (law)

An assignment[1] is a legal term used in the context of the law of contract and of property. In both instances, assignment is the process whereby a person, the assignor, transfers rights or benefits to another, the assignee.[2] An assignment may not transfer a duty, burden or detriment without the express agreement of the assignee. The right or benefit being assigned may be a gift (such as a waiver) or it may be paid for with a contractual consideration such as money.

The rights may be vested or contingent,[3] and may include an equitable interest.[4] Mortgages and loans are relatively straightforward and amenable to assignment. An assignor may assign rights, such as a mortgage note issued by a third party borrower, and this would require the latter to make repayments to the assignee.

A related concept of assignment is novation wherein, by agreement with all parties, one contracting party is replaced by a new party. While novation requires the consent of all parties, assignment needs no consent from other non-assigning parties. However, in the case of assignment, the consent of the non-assigning party may be required by a contractual provision.[5]

Procedure

The assignment does not necessarily have to be in writing; however, the assignment agreement must show an intent to transfer rights. The effect of a valid assignment is to extinguish privity (in other words, contractual relationship, including right to sue) between the assignor and the third-party obligor and create privity between the obligor and the assignee.

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