Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back

Know the Law: When is an "Assignment" Clause Worth Fighting For?

Written by: Megan M. Coneeny

Published in the Union Leader (2/25/2019)

Q. My small business is negotiating with a vendor who has asked to remove our contract’s “assignment” clause entirely. Is it worth the time to argue over whether to include an assignment clause?

A. First, it’s important to understand the purpose of the assignment clause. “Assignment” occurs when a party transfers its rights and obligations under a contract to another party. Generally, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, each can assign its rights and obligations freely.

Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code, a set of laws governing the sale of goods that has been adopted by 49 states, including New Hampshire, provides that a party can freely assign its rights and obligations to another unless such assignment would materially change the duties of the other party, burden the other party, or decrease the other party’s chances of receiving performance under the contract.

If your vendor eliminates the assignment clause and no agreement on the topic is provided in the contract, your vendor will be free to transfer its obligations to another person or company without giving you notice or obtaining your approval.

Parties do have the ability, however, to mutually decide against the free assignability of a contract and this is often accomplished through an assignment clause. An assignment clause spells out which, if any, of a party’s obligations and rights under a contract are able to be assigned, or transferred, to another party. Free assignability and no assignability are not the only options, and you and your vendor can negotiate terms for assignment that are amenable to both of you.

For example, some clauses allow for assignment with the other party’s consent, meaning, the vendor would have to obtain your approval of the assignee prior to assigning any of its rights or obligations under the contract. Other times, assignment clauses allow for free assignment only to certain persons or entities, such as the vendor’s subsidiaries and affiliates, provided that the vendor gives you notice of such permitted assignment. Another option is to allow for assignment by the vendor provided that it guaranties the assignee’s performance.

Consider potential situations in which the vendor may want to assign the contract and determine whether it’s important to you to have control over assignment in each instance.

Consider discussing situations in which it may be important for the vendor to have freedom of assignment and, instead of removing the provision all together, specify those situations in which assignment is permitted, list those rights or obligations that are assignable, and consider whether, when assignment is permitted, notice, consent or a guaranty will be required.

Megan Coneeny can be reached at [email protected]. Know the Law is a biweekly column sponsored by McLane Middleton, Professional Association. We invite your questions about business law. Questions and ideas for future columns should be addressed to: McLane Middleton, 900 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101 or emailed to [email protected].

Know the Law provides general legal information, not legal advice. We recommend that you consult a lawyer for guidance specific to your particular situation.

Integrity and trust

At McLane Middleton we establish and maintain long-standing relationships with our clients to help us better achieve their unique goals over time. This approach to building trust requires that our esteemed lawyers and professionals use their broad, in-depth knowledge and work together with integrity to ascertain sound resolutions to legal matters for their clients.

Strength in numbers

McLane Middleton is made up of more than 105 attorneys who represent a broad range of clients throughout the region, delivering customized solutions. As a firm we are recognized as having the highest legal ability rating. The firm is rated Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell and is recognized as one of the nation's leading law firms in Chambers USA. Our attorneys are distinguished leaders in their respective practice areas.

Meet Our People

Commitment and collaboration

McLane Middleton's versatile group of attorneys and paralegals become trusted authorities on each case through collaboration. We work with our clients to learn their individual needs first and foremost and, together, we develop comprehensive solutions to their specific legal matters. This approach helps us exceed our clients' expectations efficiently and effectively, client by client, case by case.

Practice Areas

A history of excellence

McLane Middleton was established in 1919 in New Hampshire, and has five offices across two states. However, deep historical roots don't allow you to become innate. Our firm is organized, technological, and knowledgeable. Our history means we are recognized. But our reputation is built on the highest quality of service and experience in very specific areas of law.

The Firm

Intelligence paired with action

Our team continuously seeks opportunities to enhance their professional development and put key learnings to action. The pursuit of further insight guides us to volunteer service opportunities, speaking engagements, and teaching roles. Our lawyers are sought after thought leaders across their industries, and recipients of leadership awards throughout the region.