For some time, I have been meaning to inaugurate a thread on the topic of incomplete instruments and, more particularly, assignments in blank.
I have introduced this topic before in a couple of other threads, including:
Distinguishing Indorsement In Blank and Assignment In Blank
Alteration of Instruments
Most will view this topic as somewhat arcane and will little see the practical value in this discussion and exposition. Please be patient and indulge me. In the course of coming months, the relevance and significance of this topic will begin to emerge!
To a certain extent, this post will merely be a crosslinking stub for future elaboration.
But in my leisurely reading of Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1766) tonight, I came across some interesting three century old text which can inform our inquiry into the legal efficacy and status of assignments in blank and other incomplete instruments, in the discussion within Book II, Chapter 20 about teh requisites of deeds.
Here is what Blackstone had to say about some of the essential elements:
"We are in the next place to consider the requisites of a deed. The first of which is, that there be persons able to contract and be contracted with the purposes intended by the deed: and also a thing, or subject-matter, to be contracted for; all which must be expressed by sufficient names. (f) So as in every grant, there must be a grantor, a grantee, and a thing granted; in every lease a lessor, a lessee, and a thing demised. [emphasis added]"Footnote (f) identifies the authority for this assertion Stat. 13 Eliz. c. 5 (Statutes 13th Year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, Chapter 5).
Based upon this definition, we might well imagine that if you leave the name of the grantee OFF of an instrument, this might leave you with an incomplete instrument. Sir William Blackstone understood this rather clearly almost two hundred fifty years ago. It is taught to first year law students. But an assignments in blank were good enough for $3 trillion in securitized mortgages, even though such an assignment would be legally ineffective.