2020 Georgia Code
Title 44 - Property
Chapter 12 - Rights in Personalty
Article 2 - Choses in Action
§ 44-12-22. Assignment of Choses in Action Arising Upon Contracts
Except as may be otherwise provided in Title 11, all choses in action arising upon contract may be assigned so as to vest the title in the assignee, but he takes it, except negotiable instruments subject to the equities existing between the assignor and debtor at the time of the assignment, and until notice of the assignment is given to the person liable.
(Orig. Code 1863, § 2224; Code 1868, § 2218; Code 1873, § 2244; Code 1882, § 2244; Civil Code 1895, § 3077; Civil Code 1910, § 3653; Code 1933, § 85-1803; Ga. L. 1943, p. 263, § 1; Ga. L. 1952, p. 225, § 9; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 44; Ga. L. 1987, p. 3, § 44.)Law reviews.
- For note, "Wrongful Refusal to Pay Insurance Claims in Georgia," see 13 Ga. L. Rev. 935 (1979).JUDICIAL DECISIONS
- General Consideration
- Requirements for Assignment of Choses in Action
- Assignable Choses in Action
- Rights of Parties
O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 makes all choses in action assignable with full protection to the debtor as to all equities existing until the time of notice. Gilmore v. Bangs, 55 Ga. 403 (1875); Baer v. English & Co., 84 Ga. 403, 11 S.E. 453, 20 Am. St. R. 372 (1890); Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Amos, 98 Ga. 533, 25 S.E. 575 (1896); Herring v. First Nat'l Bank, 13 Ga. App. 492, 79 S.E. 359 (1913); Few v. Pou, 32 Ga. App. 620, 124 S.E. 372 (1924); Lamon v. Perry, 33 Ga. App. 248, 125 S.E. 907 (1924).
Except where contract involves relation of personal confidence, such as to show that the party conferring the rights must necessarily have intended them to be exercised only by that party upon whom they were actually conferred. Tifton, T. & G. Ry. v. Bedgood & Co., 116 Ga. 945, 43 S.E. 257 (1903); Adair v. Smith, 23 Ga. App. 290, 98 S.E. 224 (1919).
Intent of O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22. - The manifest intent of O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 seems to be that the notice prescribed is intended to fix the status of all equities, and that, after such notice has been given, any equities subsequently arising are barred. Ellis v. Dudley, 19 Ga. App. 566, 91 S.E. 904 (1917).
To avoid disturbing the time-honored rule that none save the holder of the legal title can prosecute an action, O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 provides that a regular assignment, in conformity to established custom, should operate to pass the legal title, and thus enable the assignee to maintain a suit in own name. Haug v. Riley, 101 Ga. 372, 29 S.E. 44, 40 L.R.A. 244 (1897).Manner of assignment not prescribed by this section.
- O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 does not undertake to prescribe the manner in which choses in action may be assigned so as to vest the title. Haug v. Riley, 101 Ga. 372, 29 S.E. 44, 40 L.R.A. 244 (1897).
O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 does not prohibit parties from providing that their contract shall not be assignable. Mingledorff's, Inc. v. Hicks, 133 Ga. App. 27, 209 S.E.2d 661 (1974).
O.C.G.A. §§ 9-12-21 and44-12-22 must be construed together harmoniously. Western Nat'l Bank v. Maverick Nat'l Bank, 90 Ga. 339, 16 S.E. 942, 35 Am. St. R. 210 (1892).
"Assigned" means transferred. Haug v. Riley, 101 Ga. 372, 29 S.E. 44, 40 L.R.A. 244 (1897).Damages to property and person distinguished.
- O.C.G.A. §§ 44-12-22 and44-12-24 distinguish damages to property and damages to person, and under them a right of action for damage to the person cannot be assigned, and a right of action for damage to property can be assigned. Benjamin-Ozburn Co. v. Morrow Transf. & Storage Co., 13 Ga. App. 636, 79 S.E. 753 (1913).Executed sale and executory contract to sell distinguished.
- In an executed sale, as distinguished from an executory contract to sell, where the instrument purports to make a present transfer of title, if the existence of the subject matter is not then actual or complete, it must at least be so potential as to amount to a present right in the vendor to a future interest or benefit; but where the instrument is merely an executory contract to sell, the parties may be bound, even though the subject matter is known to have neither an actual nor a potential existence, provided the agreement is not merely speculative, but contemplates an actual future delivery of the thing bargained for. Eibel v. Mechanics Loan & Sav. Co., 52 Ga. App. 349, 183 S.E. 133 (1935).
Cited in Murray & Co. v. Jones, 50 Ga. 109 (1873); Adams v. Robinson, 69 Ga. 627 (1882); Zellner v. Mobley, 84 Ga. 746, 11 S.E. 402, 20 Am. St. R. 390 (1890); Western Nat'l Bank v. Maverick Nat'l Bank, 90 Ga. 339, 16 S.E. 942, 35 Am. St. R. 210 (1892); Loudermilk v. Loudermilk, 93 Ga. 443, 21 S.E. 77 (1894); Peoples Bank v. Exchange Bank, 116 Ga. 820, 43 S.E. 269 (1902); Dean v. Bateman, 12 Ga. App. 253, 77 S.E. 102 (1913); Ellis v. Dudley, 19 Ga. App. 566, 91 S.E. 904 (1917); Fourth Nat'l Bank v. Odom, 147 Ga. 170, 93 S.E. 91 (1917); Garrard v. Milledgeville Banking Co., 168 Ga. 339, 147 S.E. 766 (1929); Macon Nat'l Bank v. Smith, 170 Ga. 332, 153 S.E. 4 (1930); Doepke v. Cocke, 45 Ga. App. 65, 163 S.E. 310 (1932); Southern Ry. v. Cole, 49 Ga. App. 635, 176 S.E. 512 (1934); National Fin. Co. v. Citizens Loan & Sav. Co., 184 Ga. 619, 192 S.E. 717 (1937); West v. Anderson, 187 Ga. 587, 1 S.E.2d 671 (1939); Delray, Inc. v. Reddick, 194 Ga. 676, 22 S.E.2d 599 (1942); Padgett v. Butler, 84 Ga. App. 297, 66 S.E.2d 194 (1951); Whatley v. Alto Corp., 211 Ga. 718, 88 S.E.2d 398 (1955); Mobley v. GMAC, 103 Ga. App. 584, 119 S.E.2d 804 (1961); S.M. & M. Realty Corp. v. Highlands Ins. Co., 123 Ga. App. 170, 179 S.E.2d 781 (1971); Ampex Credit Corp. v. Bateman, 554 F.2d 750 (5th Cir. 1977); Arrow Dyeing & Finishing Co. v. Clarklift of Dalton, Inc., 148 Ga. App. 693, 252 S.E.2d 197 (1979); Cobb Bank & Trust Co. v. American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., 624 F.2d 722 (5th Cir. 1980); Dennard v. Freeport Minerals Co., 250 Ga. 330, 297 S.E.2d 222 (1982); Decatur N. Assocs. v. Builders Glass, Inc., 180 Ga. App. 862, 350 S.E.2d 795 (1986); Rome Hous. Auth. v. Allied Bldg. Materials, Inc., 182 Ga. App. 233, 355 S.E.2d 747 (1987); Hammond v. City of Warner Robins, 224 Ga. App. 684, 482 S.E.2d 422 (1997).Requirements for Assignment of Choses in Action
Assignment of chose in action must be in writing. Hawkes v. Mobley, 174 Ga. 481, 163 S.E. 494 (1932); Jarecky v. Arnold, 51 Ga. App. 954, 182 S.E. 66 (1935); Lumpkin v. American Sur. Co., 69 Ga. App. 887, 27 S.E.2d 412 (1943).No special form of words is necessary to make assignment of chose in action.
- Any language, however informal, will be sufficient to vest the title in the assignee, if it shows the intention of the owner of the chose in action to at once transfer it so that it will be the property of the transferee. Southern Mut. Life Ins. Ass'n v. Durdin, 132 Ga. 495, 64 S.E. 264, 131 Am. St. R. 210 (1909); Myers v. Adams, 14 Ga. App. 520, 81 S.E. 595 (1914); Peck v. Calhoun, 38 Ga. App. 764, 145 S.E. 528 (1928); Baker v. Sutton, 47 Ga. App. 176, 170 S.E. 95 (1933); Lumpkin v. American Sur. Co., 61 Ga. App. 777, 7 S.E.2d 687 (1940), later appeal, 69 Ga. App. 887, 27 S.E.2d 412 (1943).
Where the petition set forth a right in the petitioners, as assignees of a written option, to a reconveyance of described land upon the tender and offer to perform as made to the defendant, the court did not err in overruling the motion to dismiss the action. Barron v. Anderson, 204 Ga. 7, 48 S.E.2d 846 (1948).Proof of immediate change of ownership required for assignment.
- In order to infer an equitable assignment, such facts and circumstances must appear, as would not only raise an equity between the assignor and the assignee, but show that the parties contemplated an immediate change of ownership with respect to the particular fund in question, not a change of ownership when the fund should be collected or realized, but at the time of the transaction relied upon to constitute the assignment. Brown Guano Co. v. Bridges, 34 Ga. App. 652, 130 S.E. 695 (1925).Potential existence of fund assigned required.
- It is not necessary that the fund attempted to be assigned shall be in actual existence at the time, for it is well settled that it is sufficient if it exists potentially. Brown Guano Co. v. Bridges, 34 Ga. App. 652, 130 S.E. 695 (1925).Previous acceptance by debtor required for partial assignment of debt.
- A partial assignment of a debt due the assignor will not vest in the assignee such a title to the part of the debt assigned as can be enforced in a common-law action, without a previous acceptance by the debtor. Rivers v. Wright & Co., 117 Ga. 81, 43 S.E. 499 (1903); Central of Ga. Ry. v. Dover, 1 Ga. App. 240, 57 S.E. 1002 (1907); Ison Co. v. Atlantic Coast Line R.R., 17 Ga. App. 459, 87 S.E. 754 (1916).Employer's assent to assignment of wages required to maintain action.
- An action at law by the assignee against a railway company, for that part of the wages earned by the assignor at the date of the assignment, cannot be maintained, unless the railway company assented to the assignment. Central of Ga. Ry. v. Dover, 1 Ga. App. 240, 57 S.E. 1002 (1907).Assignable Choses in Action
All choses in action arising upon contract, including accounts receivable, may be assigned so as to vest title and the right to sue on them in the assignee. William Iselin & Co. v. Davis, 157 Ga. App. 739, 278 S.E.2d 442 (1981).
Claim arising from breach of contract to become surety on a guano note is assignable. Adams v. Williams, 125 Ga. 430, 54 S.E. 99 (1906).Insurance policies.
- A policy of insurance being a chose in action may be assigned so as to vest the title in the assignee, but the assignee takes it subject to the equities existing between the assignor and debtor at the time of the assignment. Morris v. Georgia Loan, Sav. & Banking Co., 109 Ga. 12, 34 S.E. 378, 46 L.R.A. 506 (1899); Sprouse v. Skinner, 155 Ga. 119, 116 S.E. 606 (1923); Baldwin v. Atlanta Joint Stock Land Bank, 189 Ga. 607, 7 S.E.2d 178 (1940); Parramore v. Williams, 215 Ga. 179, 109 S.E.2d 745 (1959).
After a life insurance policy has matured by the death of the insured, the policy may be assigned as any chose in action regardless of any stipulation in the policy. Progressive Life Ins. Co. v. Bohannon, 74 Ga. App. 617, 40 S.E.2d 564 (1946).
An assignment of an insurance policy for value received which recites that it "is an absolute assignment" is an absolute assignment as against the original beneficiary, and the insured under such an assignment will have no interest in the policy after assignment. Parramore v. Williams, 215 Ga. 179, 109 S.E.2d 745 (1959).
A beneficiary, having only a divestible interest which is not a vested right, is, in effect, divested of this interest by the assignment of an insurance policy subject to the payment of a debt. Ruis v. Bank of Albany, 213 Ga. 41, 96 S.E.2d 580 (1957).Reinsurance company proceeding as sole claimant.
- Trial court properly denied the appellant's motion to stay arbitration and granted the appellees' motion to compel arbitration because the assignment of the claims to the reinsurance company was valid and enforceable and, therefore, the reinsurance company could proceed as the sole claimant. McLarens Young Int'l, Inc. v. Am. Safety Cas. Ins. Co., 334 Ga. App. 819, 780 S.E.2d 464 (2015).
Subscription to capital stock of railroad company is a chose in action and assignable, and the assignee can enforce its payment under circumstances where the company could do so. Chattanooga R. & C.R.R. v. Warthen, 98 Ga. 599, 25 S.E. 988 (1896).
Any chose in action involving a property right may be assigned, and so a deed, as made after a breach, vested all the rights of the grantor as to this property, including the right to sue. Evans v. Brown, 196 Ga. 364, 27 S.E.2d 300 (1943).Automobile retail installment sales contract.
- Automobile dealer had the right to assign a retail installment sales contract, and a discount deducted from the face amount of the contract when it was sold to a finance company was not a finance charge required to be disclosed by the dealer to the purchasers. Chancellor v. Gateway Lincoln-Mercury, Inc., 233 Ga. App. 38, 502 S.E.2d 799 (1998).
Chose in action based on tort is transferable where it directly involves right of property. Colter v. Livingston, 154 Ga. 401, 114 S.E. 430 (1922); Lamon v. Perry, 33 Ga. App. 248, 125 S.E. 907 (1924); Lumpkin v. American Sur. Co., 69 Ga. App. 887, 27 S.E.2d 412 (1943); Ricketts v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 127 Ga. App. 483, 194 S.E.2d 311 (1972).
While action is pending for tort, there can be no legal assignment of the cause of action or of the damages to be recovered. Gamble v. Cent. R.R. & Banking Co., 80 Ga. 595, 7 S.E. 315, 12 Am. St. R. 276 (1888); Sullivan v. Curling, 149 Ga. 96, 99 S.E. 533, 5 A.L.R. 124 (1919); Colter v. Livingston, 154 Ga. 401, 114 S.E. 430 (1922).
Therefore, an action of deceit arising under O.C.G.A. § 51-6-2, which is a tort, is not assignable. Bates & Co. v. Forsyth, 64 Ga. 232 (1879).Bank entitled to assign right of action against defalcating employee.
- Where a surety company contracts to indemnify a bank against loss occasioned by the defalcation of any employee thereof, and upon an alleged defalcation by one of the bank's employees, the company pays the loss sustained by the bank upon the presentation to it by the bank of a claim of loss in accordance with the terms of the contract, the bank may properly transfer and assign its right of action against the employee to recover the amount of its loss to the company, and the surety company may maintain an action in its own name against the defalcating employee of the bank to recover the amount paid by it to the bank under the contract of indemnity made with the bank. Lumpkin v. American Sur. Co., 61 Ga. 777, 7 S.E.2d 687 (1940), later appeal, 69 Ga. App. 887, 27 S.E.2d 412 (1943).
Liability is asset assignable by trustee in bankruptcy of a corporation under an order of the referee in bankruptcy. Baker v. Sutton, 47 Ga. App. 176, 170 S.E. 95 (1933).
Transfer of note is fully within the terms of O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22. Jackson v. State, 5 Ga. App. 177, 62 S.E. 726 (1908).Account is assignable.
- See Mordecai v. Stewart, 37 Ga. 364 (1867); Barron v. Walker, 80 Ga. 121, 7 S.E. 272 (1887); Akin v. Feagin, 90 Ga. 72, 15 S.E. 654 (1892); Nix v. Ellis, 118 Ga. 345, 45 S.E. 404 (1903); Central of Ga. Ry. v. King Bros. & Co., 137 Ga. 369, 73 S.E. 632 (1912); Southern Ry. v. Pitner & Raines, 17 Ga. App. 451, 87 S.E. 754 (1916).
Right of action on letter of credit is assignable. Adams v. Williams, 125 Ga. 430, 54 S.E. 99 (1906).Bond for title is assignable.
- Although a bond for title obligated the owners of certain land to make title thereto to the obligee, heirs, executors, and administrators, without adding assigns, it is nevertheless assignable under O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22. Fulcher & Co. v. Daniel & Son, 80 Ga. 74, 4 S.E. 259 (1887).
Architects' certificate is assignable. Timmons v. Citizens Bank, 11 Ga. App. 69, 74 S.E. 798 (1912).Entry in bank book.
- An entry in a bank book is equivalent to a receipt for money and is, consequently, evidence of a loan and of a contract for repayment on demand; as such, it is sufficient to establish the relation of debtor and creditor between the parties and it is assignable so as to vest a right of action in the assignee in the assignee's own name. Flanders & Huguenin v. Maynard, 58 Ga. 56 (1877).
Covenants are assignable. Tucker v. McArthur, 103 Ga. 409, 30 S.E. 283 (1898).
Right of heir to interest in ancestor's estate is assignable. Greenwood v. Greenwood, 178 Ga. 605, 173 S.E. 858 (1934).
Contingent right in certain real estate is assignable even though it is not at all certain that it would ever be transformed into a present right. Chattahoochee Holdings, Inc. v. Marshall, 146 Ga. App. 658, 247 S.E.2d 167 (1978).Title to exemption assignable by debtor.
- Although a debtor has no vested title or interest in an exemption at the time of its sale or assignment, the debtor has a chose in action and a potential right in the nature of a defeasible title, which is assignable. Eibel v. Mechanics Loan & Sav. Co., 52 Ga. App. 349, 183 S.E. 133 (1935).
An interest in the title to an exemption may be assigned in good faith to a creditor, not only before the exemption is set aside by the court, but even before bankruptcy proceedings are instituted. Eibel v. Mechanics Loan & Sav. Co., 52 Ga. App. 349, 183 S.E. 133 (1935).
O.C.G.A. § 44-12-22 inapplicable to bill of lading. Postell v. Avery & Co., 12 Ga. App. 507, 77 S.E. 666 (1913).Exclusive use of name.
- The exclusive use of a person's name conveyed to a party for consideration may be assigned by that party in an enforceable contract. Fletcher v. Atlanta Bd. of Realtors, Inc., 250 Ga. 21, 295 S.E.2d 737 (1982).Legal malpractice claims.
- Appellate court properly affirmed the denial of summary judgment to a lawyer on a legal malpractice claim because in light of assignments allowable under O.C.G.A. §§ 44-12-22 and44-12-24, the Georgia Supreme Court agrees that the assignment of legal malpractice claims is not prohibited as a matter of law. Villanueva v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 292 Ga. 630, 740 S.E.2d 108 (2013).
Georgia Supreme Court agrees with the Georgia Court of Appeals that legal malpractice claims are not per se unassignable. Villanueva v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 292 Ga. 630, 740 S.E.2d 108 (2013).Rights of Parties
Assignee can acquire no greater rights than the assignor had. Healey v. Morgan, 135 Ga. App. 915, 219 S.E.2d 628 (1975).
Contracting parties may waive or renounce what law has established in their favor provided such waiver or renunciation does not thereby injure others or affect the public interest. Young v. John Deere Plow Co., 102 Ga. App. 132, 115 S.E.2d 770 (1960).
Debtor under a conditional sale contract, by expressly agreeing not to set up as a defense to an action on the contract by the assignee thereof any claim the debtor may have had against the assignor of the contract, waived the right to plead failure of consideration in an action on the contract by the assignee, and such plea and the cross action for the down payment are without merit. Jones v. Universal C.I.T. Credit Corp., 88 Ga. App. 24, 75 S.E.2d 822 (1953); Young v. John Deere Plow Co., 102 Ga. App. 132, 115 S.E.2d 770 (1960).
Because third party failed to present sufficient evidence supporting its position that it had a right, as successor in interest, to sue on a creditor's account with the creditor's debtor in order to support that right, summary judgment in its favor in suit against the debtor was erroneously entered. Ponder v. CACV of Colo., LLC, 289 Ga. App. 858, 658 S.E.2d 469 (2008).Agreement for debt setoff.
- If the agreement is for a consideration, it is binding on the same terms as any other agreement; and if it is executed, it needs no consideration. National Sur. Corp. v. Algernon Blair, Inc., 114 Ga. App. 30, 150 S.E.2d 256, rev'd on other grounds, 222 Ga. 672, 151 S.E.2d 724 (1966).
Claim of assignee of judgment is subject to such equities and defenses as may have existed in favor of the judgment debtor against the judgment creditor at the time of the assignment, but is not subject to rights which did not then exist in favor of such judgment debtor and of which the judgment debtor did not become possessed until some time later, as by the subsequent purchase of judgments against the judgment creditor. Sheffield v. Preacher, 175 Ga. 719, 165 S.E. 742 (1932).
Equities existing between assignor and debtor include the terms and conditions of the contract under which the indebtedness arose. National Sur. Corp. v. Algernon Blair, Inc., 114 Ga. App. 30, 150 S.E.2d 256, rev'd on other grounds, 222 Ga. 672, 151 S.E.2d 724 (1966).Holder's rights unaffected by equities between maker and payee.
- The equities between the maker and the payee, originating after a transfer to a third person, will not affect the rights of the holder, though the transfer is made after the note becomes due. Central Trust Co. v. Fargason, 21 Ga. App. 696, 94 S.E. 902 (1918).Effect of mere equitable assignment.
- An assignee may sue in own name, but a mere equitable assignment or interest arising from paying for a chose in action, without written transfer, gives no right to sue upon it in the name of the equitable assignee. Florida Coca Cola Bottling Co. v. Ricker, 136 Ga. 411, 71 S.E. 734 (1911). See also Lamon v. Perry, 33 Ga. App. 248, 125 S.E. 907 (1924).Right to sue where subject matter of assignment not mere naked right of action.
- Where the subject matter of a sale, purchase, and assignment is not a mere naked right of action, but assignable property, such as an execution, mortgage and note, the ownership carried with it a right to sue as an incident of such ownership. Reed v. Janes, 84 Ga. 380, 11 S.E. 401 (1890).
Upon the transfer to the plaintiffs of a bill of lading calling for a full quantity of corn, there is assigned to plaintiffs the right of action for the defendant's loss or conversion of a part of the corn. Askew & Co. v. Southern Ry., 1 Ga. App. 79, 58 S.E. 242 (1907).
Mere equitable title insufficient when plaintiff relies on title to recover possession of personal property wrongfully withheld from the plaintiff who must show a legal title; a mere equitable title will not suffice. Eibel v. Mechanics Loan & Sav. Co., 52 Ga. App. 349, 183 S.E. 133 (1935).Absent description of property equitable interest conveyed by instrument other than draft.
- An instrument, other than a draft, purporting to assign a sum of money to be paid out of a fund claimed to be in the hands of another, without describing the identical money intended to be conveyed, will not of itself convey legal title to any part of the fund which in fact may be in the hands of such other person; if anything is conveyed it is an equitable interest in the entire fund. Western & A.R.R. v. Union Inv. Co., 128 Ga. 74, 57 S.E. 100 (1907).
Choses in action are not subject to seizure and sale under executions based upon ordinary judgment, and can only be reached by the judgment creditor through a garnishment or some other collateral proceeding; and, inasmuch as such garnishment or collateral proceeding is necessary to fix the lien of the judgment so as to make it effective, an assignment of the chose in action by the debtor before the institution of such collateral proceeding passes to the assignee the property of the debtor in the chose in action assigned, freed from the lien of a general judgment previously rendered against the assignor. Greenwood v. Greenwood, 178 Ga. 605, 173 S.E. 858 (1934).Assignment of entire chose in action entitled to priority over prior partial assignment.
- Where a second assignment is of the entire chose in action, it vests in the assignee the legal title to the whole chose in action, and it is entitled to priority over the holder of a prior partial assignment of a chose in action to which the debtor of the assignor has not assented. King Bros. & Co. v. Central of Ga. Ry., 135 Ga. 225, 69 S.E. 113, 1912A Ann. Cas. 672 (1910).