What is Delegation? - Definition, Parties & Duties

What is Delegation? - Definition, Parties & Duties
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  • 0:05 Delegation
  • 0:54 Differences in…
  • 2:44 Contract Rights
  • 3:49 Contract Liability
  • 4:54 Delegation Prohibited
  • 5:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Delegation occurs when the responsibility and authority for performing a particular contractual duty is transferred to another party. This is different than an assignment. This lesson explains delegation, and the differences between delegation and assignment.


Delegation is a common practice in contract law. Delegation occurs when a party to the contract transfers the responsibility and authority for performing a particular contractual duty to another party. Delegation doesn't involve the transfer of contractual rights.

Let's say that you hire me to remodel your kitchen. I'm planning to do all of the work myself, but I'm not a painter. Paint fumes give me a headache. I'm planning to delegate the painting to my friend, Pam. I'm still responsible for the kitchen remodel, and you'll pay me when I'm finished. The contract is between you and me. Pam is only responsible for the painting.

Differences in Delegation and Assignment

An assignment occurs when an original party to the contract transfers the rights and duties of the contract to another party. A party can assign the entire contract, meaning that the party assigns both the rights and the obligations of the contract. Alternatively, the party can assign only the rights, or benefits, due under the contract. The party making the assignment is called the assignor. The party receiving the assignment is the assignee. It's helpful to remember that the assignee steps into the shoes of the assignor.

Delegation, on the other hand, involves only a portion of the contract. With delegation, a particular contractual task or activity is transferred. Delegation means that an obligation is transferred, but no rights are transferred. The party making the delegation is called the delegator. The party receiving the delegation is the delegatee. The delegatee doesn't assume responsibility for the entire contract or receive the benefits of the contract. Therefore, the delegatee doesn't step into the shoes of the delegator. In our scenario, I am the delegator and Pam is the delegatee.

In both assignment and delegation, there is an obligor. The obligor is the other original party to the contract and is obligated to do something under the terms of the contract. In our scenario, you are the obligor. You're obligated to pay me once I finish your kitchen.

Contract Rights

The main difference between delegation and assignment relates to contract rights. In an assignment, the rights, or benefits, of the contract are assigned to another party. If I assign Pam to remodel your kitchen, then Pam has the right to collect payment from you. If you refuse to pay Pam, she can sue you for payment. Pam has stepped into my shoes.

On the other hand, in a delegation, the delegator retains the rights, or benefits, of the contract, as well as the overall obligations of the contract. If I delegate only the duty to paint your kitchen, I'm still responsible for delivering your completely remodeled kitchen. I also still have the right to collect payment from you when the entire kitchen is finished. If you refuse to pay, Pam can't sue you because she never had a contract with you. Pam doesn't step into my shoes. I'll have to sue you for payment.

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