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Business Law Today (February 2019)


The organizational law of limited liability companies (LLCs) and partnerships has always fundamentally embraced an idea known as the “pick-your-partner principle,” under which transfers of a member’s or partner’s ownership interest are restricted by statute, and those restrictions may be tightened or loosened by agreement. In recent years the pick-your-partner principle has interacted in complex and not always practical ways with Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Since 2001, UCC §§ 9-406 and 9-408 have overridden a broad range of statutory and agreement-based anti-assignment provisions, subject to complex exceptions that have tended to protect the pick-your-partner principle in many significant respects, while also proving analytically very difficult to handle. Recently, however, in an important step forward, Article 9’s overrides of anti-assignment provisions have been amended to make them simply inapplicable to LLC and partnership interests.

One hopes that these amendments to Article 9’s overrides (hereinafter the “2018 amendments” because they were approved last year) will soon be enacted by the states, but in the meantime, the current overrides will remain on the books in various jurisdictions with all of their existing complexities. Accordingly, this article focuses not only on the 2018 amendments, but also on an analysis of the overrides as they now stand, as applied to LLC and partnership interests. The amendments themselves are quite simple, but the article discusses them only after analyzing the overrides because the amendments are more easily understood against that background.