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.
The general rule at common law was that assignment of contractual rights, made by the voluntary act of the parties, was of no effect if the adversary party to the contract thus assigned did not consent thereto. This rule was laid down by the English courts,1 and it became so thoroughly settled that it was adopted without question or discussion as a part of the common law of the United States,2 although by the time that it was adopted in the United States it had gone a long way in its degeneration into a mere pro cedural rule.
Smith Wholesale Grocery Co., 34 Okla. 662, 46 L. R. A. (N.S.) 455, 127 Pac. 14; Humphrey v. Coquillard Wagon Works, 37 Okla. 714, 49 L. R. A. (N.S.) 600, 132 Pac. 890.
5 "'The assignee of a claim has no greater rights therein than the assignor'; that is, the owner of an ordinary chose in action can not sell and transfer a greater right therein than he himself has, but he can sell whatever interest he has therein, and, in the absence of fraud, the purchaser will take whatever right the seller had at the time of the sale, and the seller may afterwards formally transfer the right pursuant to his agreement." Vander-lip v. Barnes, 101 Neb. 573, 163 N. W. 856.
6Townsend v. Carpenter, 11 Ohio 21.
7 See Sec. 2343 et seq.
8 See Sec. 2302.
9 See Sec. 2261.
1 Lampct's Case, 10 Coke 46b; Wright v. Wright, 1 Ves. 409; Chandos v. Talbot, 2 P. Wms. 601.
The reason formerly 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 therefore fail.3 This reason explains the tenacity with which the common law has clung to the rule, and the exceptions in favor of assignments to or from the crown or the state. Like many other common-law rules, however, the rule itself arose before the reason began and persisted after the reason ceased. The aversion to assignment, which persists to this day in the case of personal contracts, arose at a time when all contracts were regarded as intensely personal, and when a stranger to a contract could acquire no rights thereunder, whether by the original terms of the contract or by subsequent assignment.4