I've seen a number of legal issues pop up recently in regard to contract assignments, and wanted to help you know 1. What they are and 2. What you should do if you see one in your contract
A contractual assignment is the transfer by one party of the rights and obligations he has in the contract to a third-party. That third-party person is the "assignee" and is said to "step into the shoes" of the "assignor."
Where do we see contractual assignments in the horse world?
Assignments in equestrian contracts are typically found in long-term or ongoing contractual agreements.
For example, take a look to see if your Boarding Agreement have an assignment provision. Often the owner of the barn will reserve the right to assign the Boarding Agreement. This means that if the barn owner sells the barn and assigns the boarding agreement to the new owner, then the new owner steps into the shoes of the barn owner and your board agreement is now with the new owner, typically without your prior consent, without you having to sign any new document, and without any say in the matter.
Two other examples: the Purchase and Sale Agreement of a horse that is being paid for by installment payments, or a Lease Agreement for a horse. An assignment would allow either the buyer or the seller, or the Lessee or Lessor, to give to a third-party the rights and duties under the contract. This could be the right to receive payment or the obligation to make payments, depending on which party is making the assignment.
Do you have an assignment provision in your contract?
The ability to make assignments can be great in some instances, bad in others, or of no truly material effect. In the example of the Board Agreement, it might not matter if the barn owner assigns the Agreement to a new owner because the new owner will be bound by the terms of the existing Board Agreement, such as the services provided to the horses and the boarders. But in an installment Purchase and Sale Agreement, if you are receiving payments and the person buying your horse assigns the contract, the contract may be assigned to someone you don't trust to make payments to you (or doesn't pass a credit check). Or in a lease agreement, the contract may be assigned by the lessee to someone that you wouldn't want to ride or lease your horse.
When you see an assignment provision in your horse contract, consider whether all or only one party to the contract is allowed to assign, if there are parameters or limitations to the right to assign, and think through what the consequences might be to the ability (or inability) to make an assignment.
And of course, if you have any questions about the assignment provision and what it means for you and your equestrian activities, be sure to ask a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction for a consultation.