The Voluntary Assignment of Receivables in Private International Law

AuthorGianluigi Passarelli
PositionResearch Fellow in Private Law at the Seconda Università degli studi di Napoli
Studi sull’integrazione europea, IX (2014), pp. 321-337
Gianluigi Passarelli*
e Voluntary Assignment
of Receivables
in Private International Law
S: 1. Special provisions for the voluntary assignment of receivables in private inter-
national law. – 2. The Rome Convention discipline. – 3. Voluntary assignment in Rome I
Regulation. – 4. Short critical analysis.
1. This matter without doubt calls for a more detailed analysis than that offered
here. A number of remarks are, however, set out in relation to voluntary assign-
ment1, which has a particularly important role considering the continuous evolution
of international trade2 which is currently more concerned with financial flows than
with services or goods.
In general terms, there is a voluntary assignment where, in a business activity,
the goods or service provider (creditor/assignor) defers payments to his customer
(debtor), therefore the former holds a recovery debt towards the latter until the
stipulated deadline. In turn, the creditor (assignor) can transfer his credit to a third
party (assignee).
* Research Fellow in Private Law at the Seconda Università degli studi di Napoli. I wish to express
my profound gratitude to Professors Enrico Minervini and Francesco Sbordone for their comments.
1 There is abundant literature on the voluntary assignment in private international law. For further see
H. B, Assignment, in Lectures on the Conict of Laws and International Contracts, Ann Arbor,
1951, p. 48 ff.; P. J. R, The Situs of Debts in the Conict of Laws – Illogical, Unnecessary and
Misleading, in Cambridge Law Journal, 1990, p. 441 ff.; A. M, La cessione del credito nel diritto
internazionale privato, Padova, 1996, passim; D. P, Les conits de lois en matière de cession de
créance, Paris, 1997, passim; H. D. S, The Proprietary Aspects of International Assignment of
Debts and the Rome Convention, Article 12, in Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, 1998, p.
345 ff.; G. C. C, P. M. N, J. J. F, Private International Law, Oxford, 2008, p. 1237;
E. C R, Les règles applicables aux transferts internationaux de créance a l’aune du nouveau
Règlement Rome I et du droit conventionnel, in A. B, E. C R (eds.), Le nouveau règle-
ment européen “Rome I” relative a la loi applicable aux obligations contractuelles. Actes de la 20 Journée
de droit international privé du 14 mars 2008 a Lausanne, Zurich, 2009, p. 198 ff.; F. J. G,
Assignment of Claims in the Rome I Regulation: Article 14, in F. F, S L (eds.), Rome I Regu-
lation: The Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations in Europe, Münich, 2009, p. 217; R. P, M.
W, The European Private International Law of Obligations, London, 2009, pp. 367-388.
2 T. C. H, Choice of Law Regarding the Voluntary Assignment of Contractual Obligations
Under the Rome I Regulation, in International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 2011, p. 29; A. F-
, Pratiche commerciali scorrette e rimedi negoziali, Napoli, 2012, p. 13.
Gianluigi Passarelli
The inconveniences regarding this “hybrid legal institution”3, are numerous and
well-known especially from an international perspective where the credits derive
from an agreement between parties that have habitual residence in different States4.
Added to these problems is the fact that, with the voluntary assignment, various dif-
ferent issues come into play: amendments, succession, transfer5.These are governed
differently by the legal system in each of the Member States6, some of which do not
have one single independent assignment of receivables agreement7.
In addition, this particular type of contract sets itself apart from others because,
as well as the corresponding obligations as between assignor and assignee, it results
in the transfer of ownership in the receivable assigned8.
However considering the importance of this matter in the financial-services
industry9, on the wake of national legislations, as well as on an international level
3 H. V, S.  D, Cross-border Assignments under Rome I, in Journal of Private In-
ternational Law, 2010, pp. 2-3. The Authors point out that “Assignment may be characterised as a hybrid
legal institution, involving features belonging to both the law of obligations and the law of property. (…)
This hybrid nature of assignment not only creates characterization problems but can also be said to be
one of the main causes of the diversity of opinion in the EU Member States in respect of the most suitable
conict rule for the assignment of claims”. See also P. P, Della cessione dei crediti. Artt. 1260-
1267 c.c., in A. S, G. B (a cura di), Commentario del codice civile, IV, Delle obbligazioni,
Bologna, 1982, p. 29; the Author states “[l]a dottrina italiana di gran lunga prevalente sottolinea, anche se
con modalità diverse e non senza incertezze di formulazione, la causalità della cessione del credito, quale
espressione, nel sistema vigente, del principio della causalità del negozio traslativo. Non sembra infatti
che trovi una convincente giusticazione la tesi che ravvisa nella cessione un negozio astratto, quale ecce-
zione al principio della natura causale e dell’efcacia reale-obbligatoria dei negozi traslativi”.
4 According to A. J. B, Rome Convention, Rome I Regulation: Commentary, New EU
Conict-of-laws Rules for Contractual Obligation, II, New York, 2010, p. 1728, the assignment is inter-
national “(…) if, at the time of conclusion of the contract of assignment, the assignor and the assignee
are located in different States”. The Author takes in consideration the denition insert in UNCITRAL
Convention, and critics this because is considered “relatively narrow and imposes limitations when it
connects the international element”. The reference is to United Nations Convention on the Assignment
of Receivables in International Trade (2004), which has as main goal to support of trans-border move-
ment of goods and services by means of the unication of legal provisions for assignment in interna-
tional market and assures the harmonisation of national law as well as. For further comments on this
Convention see UNICTRAL, Modern Law for Global Commerce, 2011, See also L.
R  B, La nuova legge sulla cartolarizzazione e la cessione di crediti a soggetti esteri,
in Diritto del commercio internazionale, 1999, p. 1061.
5 In reference to the Italian legal system see P. P, op. cit., p. 5; C. M. B, L’obbli-
gazione. Diritto civile, IV, Milano, 1993, p. 582; A. D, G. P, Cessione del credito e
cessione in garanzia nell’ordinamento italiano, in Banca, borsa e titoli di credito, 1999, p. 77; P. M.
V, S. C, L. M, Le modicazioni soggettive del rapporto obbligatorio, in N. L,
P. R (diretto da), Diritto civile, III, Obbligazioni, 1, Il rapporto obbligatorio, Milano, 2009, p.
338; D. V, Della cessione dei crediti. Art. 1260, in G. P (a cura di), Codice civile
annotato con la dottrina e la giurisprudenza, IV, Delle obbligazioni, Napoli, 2010, pp. 188-200.
6 A. B, Il nuovo diritto internazionale privato dei contratti (La Convenzione di Roma del 19
giugno 1980 è entrata in vigore), in Banca, borsa e titoli di credito, 1992, p. 96; according to whom: “[m]
entre in alcuni ordinamenti l’efcacia della cessione verso il debitore è subordinata al compimento di alcune
formalità dirette ad informarlo (ad. es. la noticazione ex art. 1264 cod. civ. italiano) o per lo meno alla cono-
scenza da parte sua dell’avvenuta cessione, in altri sistemi non sono contenute analoghe norme protettive”.
7 In reference to the Italian legal system see G. M, Sconto bancario, Napoli, 1949, passim.
8 A. B, op. cit., p. 95.
9 T. C. H, op. cit., p. 29.

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