United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade (New York, 2001)

Date of adoption: 12 December 2001


The purpose of the Convention is to promote the movement of goods and services across national borders by facilitating increased access to lower-cost credit.

Why is it relevant?

The transactions covered by the Convention (e.g. asset-based lending, factoring, forfaiting, securitization, project financing) are fundamental for the financing of international trade. Yet uncertainty as to the content and choice of legal regime applicable to the assignment of receivables constitutes an obstacle to international trade. As a result, an assignment of future receivables or a bulk assignment of receivables that are not identified individually may be ineffective. In addition, an assignment that is effective according to the law under which it was concluded, may not be enforceable as against the debtor in another country or be subordinated to the rights of competing claimants in another country. Moreover, the law applicable to conflicts of priority among competing claimants may be difficult to determine. This means that either credit is not available on the basis of receivables (e.g. the claim for the payment of the purchase price in a contract for the sale of goods) or credit is available but only to those that may be able to afford its cost; and lack of sufficient access to credit or high cost of credit is a disadvantage in particular for small- and medium-size enterprises.

Key provisions

The Convention removes legal obstacles to receivables financing transactions, inter alia, by: (a) validating assignments of future receivables and bulk assignments, and by partially invalidating contractual limitations to the assignment of receivables); (b) enhancing certainty with respect to a number of issues, such as the effectiveness of an assignment as between the assignor and the assignee and as against the debtor; (c) clarifying the law applicable to key issues, such as the priority between competing claims; and (d) providing a substantive law regime governing priority between competing claims that States may adopt on an optional basis.

Relation to private international law and existing domestic law

The Convention applies only to international assignments of receivables and to the assignment of international receivables (with the exception of "financial" receivables). However, the Convention may affect a domestic assignment of a domestic receivable if: (a) it is in conflict with an international assignment of the same receivable; or (b) if it is one in a series of subsequent assignments, one of which, falls within the scope of the Convention. For the debtor, related provisions of the Convention to apply, at the time of the conclusion of the contract from which the assigned receivables arise, the debtor has to be located in a Contracting State or the law governing the assigned receivables has to be the law of a Contracting State.

Additional information

The Convention contains an optional part with applicable law rules and another optional part with substantive rules dealing with the third-party effectiveness and priority of an assignment of receivables.

The Convention is accompanied by an explanatory note. There is also an-article-by-article commentary on the draft Convention that was before the Commission at its 34 th session in 2001.