The assignment is complete as between the assignor and the assignee, or those standing in their shoes and representing them, without any notice to the debtor or person liable;70 but it will not bind the debtor until he has received notice of it.71 A person liable under a contract has a right to know to whom his liability is due, and therefore, if he receives no notice that it is due to another than the party with whom he originally contracted, and pays the latter, he is entitled to credit for the payment.72 If, for instance, a mortgage is assigned by the mortgagee without notice to the mortgagor, and the mortgagor afterwards pays to the mortgagee, the payment is good as against a subsequent claim by the assignee.78 The reason of the' rule has been thus stated: "The debtor is liable at law to the assignor of the debt, and at law must pay the assignor if the assignor sues in respect of it. If so, it follows that he may pay without suit. The payment of the debtor to the assignor discharges the debt at law. The assignee has no legal right, and can only sue in the assignor's name. How can he sue if the debt has been paid? If a court of equity laid down the rule that the debtor is a trustee for the assignee, without having any notice of the assignment, it would be impossible for a debtor safely to pay a debt to his creditor. The law of the court has therefore required notice to be given to the debtor of the assignment in order to perfect the title of the assignee." 74
69 Tradesmen's Nat. Bank of Philadelphia v. Green, 57 Md. 602; Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Watson (C. C.) 30 Fed. 653 (Georgia statute); Chamberlin v. Gilman, 10 Colo. 94, 14 Pac. 107. See "Assignments," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 41; Cent. Dig. §§ 76, 77.
70 Muir v. Schenck, 3 Hill (N.Y.) 228, 38 Am. Dec. 633; Wood v. Partridge, 11 Mass. 488; Thayer v. Daniels, 113 Mass. 129; Burn v. Carvalho, 4 Mylne & C. 690; Bishop v. Holcomb, 10 Conn. 444; Kafes v. McPherson (N. J. Ch.) 32 Atl. 710; Marsh v. Garney, 69 N. H. 236, 45 Atl. 745. See "Assignments," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 57; Cent. Dig. §§ 116-120.
71 Stebbins v. Bruce, 80 Va. 389; Fraley's Appeal, 76 Pa. 42; Bostwick v. Bryant. 113 Ind. 448, 16 N. E. 378; Richards v. Griggs, 16 Mo. 416, 57 Am. Dec. 240; Winberry v. Koonce, S3 N. C. 351; Porter v. Dunlap, 17 Ohio St 591; Shade v. Creviston, 93 Ind. 591. In case of bankruptcy of the debtor before notice, it would pass to his assignees in bankruptcy. Ryall v. Rovvles, 1 Ves. Sr. 348; Dean v. James, 1 Adol. & E. 809. Otherwise where notice has been received before bankruptcy. Crowfoot v. Gurney, 9 Bing. 372; Hutchinson v. Heyworth, 9 Adol. & E. 375. See "Assignments," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 57; Cent. Dig. §§ 116-120.
72 Robinson v. Marshall. 11 Md. 251. See "Assignments," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 57; Cent. Dig. §§ 116-120.
73 Williams v. Sorrell, 4 Ves. 389; Van Keuren v. Corkins, 66 N. Y. 77. See "Mortgages," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 238; Cent. Dig. §§ 673-675.
The notice need not be given in any formal manner, provided it is such as to inform the debtor of the assignment.75 After notice of the assignment, he cannot refuse to be bound by it;76 and a payment by him to the original debtor will not discharge the debt.77