Delegation of duties exist when a party involved in a contract arranges to have a third party execute some of the duties spelled out in the contract.

Rules that Pertain to Delegation of Duties

There are some things to keep in mind when it comes to delegation of duties as it relates to contract agreements. Some of these include:

  • The party who delegates the duties to the third party is considered the delegator
  • It is a legally-enforceable agreement
  • In most states, it is required that the terms of the delegation of duties be clearly spelled out in the contract

When Can Delegation of Duties Be Permissible

More of than not, delegation of duties are permissible. However, there are times when it is not. Examples of times in which it may not be allowable to delegate duties to a third party include:

  • If it would change the nature of the contract. For example, if you are hosting an art auction in which you have promised the attendees a famous auctioneer will be overseeing the event, you cannot (nor can the auctioneer) delegate those auctioneering duties to another person.
  • Debt repayment. Unless specified in a situation where someone has cosigned a loan, it is often not allowable to make the promise of someone else repaying a debt.

What Is Not Able to Delegated

There are some things are not able to delegated. These are also known as nondelegable duties. Some examples of these include:

  • Personal services. If a contract stipulates that a certain individual carry out the terms of the contract, then those duties cannot be delegated to another person. For example, if you are a film producer who has entered into a contract with George Clooney’s agent that he will appear in your next film, then that role cannot be delegated to Brad Pitt.
  • Public policy. For example, it may not be permissible for the Mayor of New York City to delegate his appearing at a city council meeting to private citizens or members of his staff.
  • Delegations barred by contract. The wording of the contract itself may prevent the delegation of duties to other parties. The contract may specifically state that all duties be carried out, only, by the parties entering into the contract.

What Are Contract Assignments?

In cases in which the contract does allow for the delegation of duties, you will want to up to speed on contract assignments and what they entail. The assignment allows for the transfer of the rights regarding certain duties to the third party.

An example of this would be if you order something online, to be picked up at Macy’s, but you are unable to retrieve it, yourself, you can assign another person to pick up your purchases. In situations such as this, parties are free to do this as they please, but it may be important to read the fine print, just to be sure.

An example of a time in which you may not be able to delegate is with Broadway tickets. If you win tickets to see, “Hamilton” in the lottery, you are probably not able to delegate those tickets to another party. You will be responsible for picking up the tickets at the box office with the understanding that you are the one who will be attending the performance.

Things to Consider

While it is generally considered okay to delegate duties, there are things to consider, to ensure you are not violating the contract. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Does the contract provide language specifically opposing the delegation of duties? If so, you will not be able to engage in delegation of duties.
  • Consent of delegation of duties is not required. If you are the contractor and want to ensure that the other party involved does not delegate duties, you will want to ensure that the contract stipulates that. Additionally, if you are willing to allow the delegation of duties, but will require approval of that third party, you will want to ensure that you make that clear in the contract, as well. Without language specifying that in the contract, approval is not required.

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