An assignment in simple terms means the act of transferring an interest in property or a right to another. Assignment can be either legal or equitable. A legal assignment is “a transfer or setting over of property, or of some right or interest therein, from one person to another, and, unless in some way qualified, it is properly the transfer of one whole interest in an estate, chattel, or other thing”. An equitable assignment is “any order, writing, or act by the assignor which makes an absolute appropriation of a chose in action or fund to the use of the assignee with the intention to transfer a present interest, although not amounting to a legal assignment.” Irrespective of whether it is legal or equitable, the purpose of an assignment is to divest the assignor of a right and to vest that right in the assignee. [i]
A contract or tort, not involving personal trust and confidence nor being for personal services, are generally assignable.[ii] Once an assignment is made, all interests and rights of the assignor are transferred to the assignee. [iii]
An assignor can bring a suit in his own name only if the assignment is invalid or incomplete.[iv] An assignee is deemed to be a substitute for the assignor possessing all of the rights and obligations formerly enjoyed by the assignor.[v] Thus, a valid assignment forecloses an assignor’s remedies as the assignor loses all control over the thing assigned, and cannot do anything to defeat the assignee’s rights.
False representations which are made with knowledge and fraudulent intent are actionable under both law and equity. Thus, if the assignor incited the assignee to enter into the transaction through fraud and deceit, the assignee has a right to proceed against the assignor.
Also, the assignor does not have the right to raise the remedy of non assignability against the assignee. [vi]
[i] Melnick v. Pennsylvania Co. for Banking & Trusts, 180 Pa. Super. 441, 444-445 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1956)
[ii] Matson v. White, 122 Colo. 79, 83-84 (Colo. 1950)
[iii] Postal Instant Press v. Jackson, 658 F. Supp. 739, 741 (D. Colo. 1987)
[iv] Harambee Enterprises, Inc. v. State Bd. of Agriculture, 511 P. 2d 503 (Colo. App. 1973)
[v] Amboy Nat’l Bank v. Generali, 930 F. Supp. 1053, 1059 (D.N.J. 1996)
[vi] Harris v. Tipton, 185 Okla. 146 (Okla. 1939)