Understanding assignments: English, comparative and private international law

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The law of equitable assignment within English law simulates the effects of what would be termed 'assignment' in Civilian jurisdictions. Based on the work of Professor CH Tham, it appears that equitable assignment operates in a manner which is quite different from the substitutive transfer of the assignee in place of the assignor as envisaged in Civilian notions of 'assignment'. Looking at how English law has developed, the best explanation of the operation of equitable assignment is to understand it as a composite institution which operates in the manner of a bare trust coupled with an unusual form of irrevocable agency. If correct, this model of equitable assignment poses interesting questions for civilian jurisdictions who may wish to understand (and perhaps assimilate) how equitable assignment is able to address as wide a range of intangible assets as it presently does. At this event, Jonny discussed Scots law implications of Professor Tham's theories.

It also raises interesting questions for private international law. In particular, if the United Kingdom is not going to associate itself with the proposed EU Regulation on the third party effects of assignments, and as the rules of English private international law are still incomplete, it is timely to look again at how assignments really work, to see whether this examination paves the way for a more acceptable choice of law rule.
Period21 Jan 2020
Held atBritish Institute of International and Comparative Law, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • commercial law
  • Scots law
  • assignments
  • trust