This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
At Common Law, assignment of contractual rights made by act of the parties was of no effect if the adversary party to the contract thus assigned did not consent thereto.1 The reason generally assigned for this rule was the same as that underlying champerty: namely, the danger that causes of action might be assigned to great and influential men, and justice might therefor fail.2 Even at Common Law there were certain well-recognized exceptions to this rule. Negotiable contracts could be transferred to others than the original parties.3 Contracts running with the land could pass to the grantee of the land. Contracts could be assigned to or by the government.4 Under the influence of the doctrines of equity5 the Common-Law rule forbidding assignment finally degenerated into a mere rule of pleading. Contracts which were assignable in equity could be sued on at law, but the action had to be brought in the name of the assignor:6 The assignor had a right to security against any liability for costs,7 but if this were given the assignee had sole control of the action ;8 and the assignor could not release the cause of action,9 nor were his declarations against interest admissible when made after assignment.10
1 Lampet's Case, 10 Coke 46; Wright v. Williamson, 3 N. J. L. 520.
2 "Right might be trodden down and the weak oppressed." Co. Litt. 214a.
3 This may not be a technical assignment but it had the effect of passing legal title. See Sec. 1290 et seq.
4 Breverton's Case, 1 Dyer 30b; Stafford v. Buckley, 2 Ves. 170; United States v. Buford, 3 Pet. (U. S.) 12.
5 See Sec. 1257.
6 Master v. Miller, 4 T. R. 320; New York Guaranty Co. v. Water Co., 107 U. S. 205; Congress Construction Co. v. Libbey Co., 199 111. 398; 65 N. E. 357; affirming, 101 I11. App. 279; Marshall v. Craig, 3 Bibb (Ky.) 291; Leach v. Greene, 116 Mass. 534; Townsend v. Carpenter. 11 Ohio 21.
7 Southwick v. Hopkins, 47 Me. 362: Fay v. Guynon, 131 Mass. 31; Gordon v. Drury, 20 N. H. 353.
8 Southwick v. Hopkins, 47 Me. 362.