What is an Assignment?
The assignment is the transfer of rights or benefits of a person to another. The person who assigns his/her rights is known as the assignor, and the person to whom the rights are assigned is known as the assignee. The concept of assignment is generally used in contract law and property law. Under contract law, a person may assign his/her rights under the contract to another person. Under property law, the assignor may assign his/her interest in the property to the assignee. Through the assignment, the assignor relinquishes all his/her rights and transfers them to the assignee. Therefore, the effect of the assignment is that the assignee steps into the shoes of the assignor concerning the rights involved.
Illustration: A and B get into a contract wherein A agrees to sell goods worth $1000 to B. A sends the goods to B, and B pays only $500 at the receipt of goods with a promise to pay the remaining $500 soon. Hence, A still has the right to receive $500 from B under the contract.
A owes $500 to another person, C. In this case, A may assign his rights under the contract with B to C, and C steps into A’s shoes in the contract. The consequence of the assignment is that the privity between A and B is extinguished, and new privity between B and C is formed. Under the new contractual relationship, B must pay C $500.
A negotiable instrument is a legal document that promises to pay the bearer the sum specified on the negotiable instrument on a future date or demand. It can be understood as a contract or promise from a person to pay the specified amount to the bearer or payee. For example, personal checks, promissory notes, traveler’s checks, money orders, etc., are negotiable instruments. Negotiable instruments have a legal tender and provide a convenient medium of exchange for money.
Articles 3 and 4 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) regulate the issuance and transfer of negotiable instruments. Â§ 3â€“104 of the UCC states that a “negotiable instrument” means an unconditional promise or order to pay a fixed amount of money, with or without interest or other charges described in the promise or order, and states the conditions for a negotiable instrument. For a written document to be a negotiable instrument, the following are the requirements:
The promise must be unconditional.
There must be a fixed sum of money.
The payment must be made on a future date or on-demand by the payee.
The instrument must only contain the promise of payment by the payor and no other promise.
The document must indicate the payment to the bearer.
Assignment of Negotiable Instrument
Assignment of the negotiable instrument transfers the right to receive payment under the negotiable instrument by the bearer to another person. Transferability is in the very nature and essence of a negotiable instrument. The term ‘negotiable’ in a negotiable instrument means that the instrument is transferable and assignable. However, there is a much difference between negotiation and assignment. Negotiation is first done when a person writes the document promising a specific sum to the bearer, making the negotiable instrument. The bearer can subsequently make an assignment to another person.
The following are the requirement for the assignment of negotiable instrument:
Assignment can be done only through another written agreement
Consideration for the assignment must be proved
Notice of assignment must be given to the payor
Illustration: A gives a promissory note to B, promising him to pay $1000 on a specific future date. Here, A has negotiated by giving the promissory note to B. A is the payor, and B is the payee or the bearer. Now, as the titleholder of the promissory note, B may assign the promissory note to another person, say C. For such assignment, there must be some consideration which is owed by B to C. In this case, B must be owing C $1000 for assigning the promissory note of $1000 to C. Also, there must be a written agreement between B and C, and the notice of such assignment must be given to the payor who is A. After the assignment, the rights of B over the promissory note shall be transferred to C. Then, A must pay C the promised $1000 on the promised date.
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