The Notice of Assignment is probably the single most important document for a Factor. Understanding what needs to be included in the Notice of Assignment, how to send it, and who to send it to can mean the difference between getting paid and not. Despite the fact that every Factor is (or should be) familiar with legal requirements relating to Notices of Assignment, we still find that many of our factoring clients who end up in litigation make basic mistakes relating to their Notices of Assignment. The article focuses on what information needs to be included in the Notice, who the Notice should be sent to, and how the Notice should be delivered.
What needs to be included in the Notice of Assignment?
To be effective, there is certain information that must be included in the Notice of Assignment. The Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) requires that the notice must:
- Notify the Account Debtor that the amount due or to become due has been assigned;
- Notify the Account Debtor that payment is to be made to the Factor;
- Reasonably identify the rights assigned; and
- Be signed by the Factor or its client.
The Notice of Assignment should also include a remittance address so the Account Debtor is informed how and in what manner the Factor should be paid.
Additionally, while not explicitly required under the current version of the UCC, Factors should include language in their Notice of Assignment that: (i) the Client has assigned all of its present and future accounts receivable to Factor; (ii) the Factor holds a first priority security interest in all of the client’s accounts receivable; and (iii) all payments owing to the client must be paid to the Factor.
Who should the Notice of Assignment be sent to?
Notices of Assignment should not be sent directly to individuals with an Account Debtor. Sending the Notice to a specific individual may lead to issues relating to the authority of that individual to receive documents on behalf of the Account Debtor. Moreover, Factors that direct Notices of Assignment directly to individuals open themselves up to arguments that the Notices of Assignment was not properly delivered. For instance, our clients that have sent Notices of Assignment to individuals have ended up in situations where the individual to whom the Notice of Assignment was addressed no longer worked with the Account Debtor or the individual was located at a different office and the Notice of Assignment was not sent to the proper location. To be safe and to avoid unnecessary issues, Factors should send the Notice of Assignment to the Account Debtor’s accounts payable department.
Additionally, some states have specialized definitions for what constitutes “notice” on behalf of a company. If there is any question as to where a Notice of Assignment should be sent, Factors should check with their attorney to determine where these should be sent.
How should the Notice of Assignment be delivered?
The crucial issue for the enforceability of a Notice of Assignment is proof of receipt by the Account Debtor, not proof of delivery. Therefore, it is good business practice to send the Notice of Assignment either certified mail or other method that provides for proof of delivery.
Many of our clients have asked about whether it is proper to deliver the Notice of Assignment via e-mail asking the Account Debtor to confirm receipt or with “read receipts” turned on. Some Factors prefer this method because it is more cost efficient.
While sending Notices of Assignment via e-mail is enforceable, we would not recommend it as a general business practice. Sending the Notice in this manner requires delivering the Notice to a specific individual, which we have discussed above can be problematic. Sometimes officers and directors of companies have assistants or other personnel manage their e-mail accounts, raising the possibility that the individual to whom the Notice was sent, never saw the e-mail, even though the e-mail was “read.”
Last, there is no requirement that the Notice be signed by the Account Debtor and returned to the Factor. Often, we see our client’s Notice include a “confirmation of receipt” line for the Account Debtor to sign and return. Sometimes, the Factor will have proof of delivery to the Account Debtor but the Notice was not signed and returned by the Account Debtor. This adds unnecessary ambiguity as to whether the Notice was actually received by the Account Debtor. Therefore, we instruct our clients not to include such requests for proof of receipt.
Who should send the Notice of Assignment?
Some of our clients that have had bad experiences with Account Debtors after delivering a Notice of Assignment have chosen to have their Client be the one to deliver the Notice of Assignment. There is no legal requirement as to whether the Factor or the Client is the correct party to deliver the Notice of Assignment. However, we recommend the Factor be the one to deliver the Notice of Assignment. This way, the Factor is in complete control of the contents of the Notice of Assignment, how it is delivered, and receives confirmation of its delivery. We have been in situations in which the Factor allowed the Client to deliver the Notice of Assignment, but the Client did not deliver the Notice of Assignment in accordance with the law, leading to avoidable litigation.
Should a Factor respond to an Account Debtors questions regarding a Notice of Assignment?
Absolutely, yes. If requested by an Account Debtor, pursuant to the UCC, a Factor must furnish reasonable proof of the assignment for the Notice of Assignment to be valid. Too often we see situations in which requests are made or questions are posed by Account Debtors that the Factor ignores, thinking that because the Account Debtor received the Notice of Assignment, nothing else needs to be done. The Factor should respond to the Account Debtor and provide reasonable proof of the assignment. These communications can also provide invaluable insight as to the relationship between the client and the Account Debtor, how and when payments will be made, and can provide the Account Debtor a sense of trust with the Factor.
A Notice of Assignment is crucial for Factors because it provides legal protection, establishes priority of interest, prevents confusion, facilitates legal recourse, and enables effective communication with Account Debtors. Without this notice, Factors may encounter difficulties in asserting their rights and collecting payments from Account Debtors, potentially jeopardizing the financial transaction.
Bruce Loren and Allen Heffner of the Loren & Kean Law Firm are based in Palm Beach Gardens and Fort Lauderdale. For over 25 years, Mr. Loren has focused his practice on construction law and factoring law. Mr. Loren has achieved the title of “Certified in Construction Law” by the Florida Bar. The Firm represents factoring companies in a wide range of industries, including construction, regarding all aspects of litigation and dispute resolution. Mr. Loren and Mr. Heffner can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-615-5701