May 14, 2020

Secured Creditors

Secured Creditors

The Right of Oversecured Creditors to Default Rates of Interest from a Debtor in Bankruptcy
      Craig H. Averch, Michael J. Collins, and Stephen A. Youngman, 47(3): 961–90 (May 1992)
This Article considers the enforceability of contractual default interest rates for oversecured creditors in a bankruptcy proceeding. The authors conclude that the statutory structure of the Bankruptcy Code allows an oversecured creditor to receive interest at its contract rate, including the contractual default rate. Courts have split on the issue, with some courts applying equitable principles to deny oversecured creditors default rate interest. The authors reject these courts' application of equitable principles on the basis that the "holistic" interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code allows an oversecured creditor to charge and collect interest at the contractual rate.

Initial Report of the Joint Task Force on Deposit Accounts Control Agreements
      Joint Task Force on Deposit Account Control Agreements, ABA Section of Business Law, 61(2):745—796 (February 2006)

At the Crossroads: The Intersection of Federal Securities Laws and the Bankruptcy Code
      Wendy Walker, Mike Wiles, Alan Maza, and David Eskew, 63(1): 125–146 (November 2007)
This Article examines the ways in which the federal securities laws and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code do—and, at times, do not—work together, with an emphasis on the potential conflict between the Fair Funds Provision of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, which permits the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to distribute penalties and disgorged funds collected from debtor–corporations to shareholders, and the "absolute priority rule," which prevents distributions to equity holders in Chapter 11 reorganization cases absent payment in full of creditors. Although touched upon in some of the largest bankruptcy cases in recent years, including Enron, WorldCom, and Adelphia, this potential conflict has not been squarely addressed by the courts and presents issues which should be examined by Congress.

Report of the Model First Lien/Second Lien Intercreditor Agreement Task Force
      committee on Commercial Finance, ABA Section of Business Law, 65(3): 809–884 (May 2010)

Article 9 of the UCC: Reconciling Fundamental Property Principles and Plain Language
     Thomas E. Plank; 68(2): 439-506 (February 2013) 
Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which governs (i) the grant of a security interest in personal property to secure payment or performance of an obligation—a “true security interest”—and (ii) the sale of receivables, incorporates the primary property law principle of nemo dat quod non habet—one cannot transfer an interest in property that one does not have—and its corollary —a transferee can receive what the transferor has and no more. For good policy reasons, however, Article 9 also enacts the innovative exception to nemo dat, the Filing Priority Principle codified in the “first-to-file-or-perfect rule,” that permits a secured party who first files a financing statement to obtain a superior security interest over a secured party who first obtains a security interest and would otherwise prevail under nemo dat. For true security interests, the plain language of Article 9 effectuates the policies of nemo dat and the Filing Priority Principle.

U.C.C. Article 9, Filing-Based Priority, and Fundamental Property Principles: A Reply to Professor Plank
     Steven L. Harris and Charles W. Mooney, Jr., 69(1): 79-92 (November 2013)
Uniform Commercial Code Article 9 generally follows the common law principle that one cannot give rights in property that one does not have (nemo dat quod non habet). In many circumstances, however, the priority rules under Article 9, including its rule awarding priority to the first security interest that is perfected or as to which a financing statement has been filed, trump nemo dat and enable a debtor to grant a senior security interest in property that the debtor previously had encumbered. In this article, Professors Steven Harris and Charles Mooney argue that, properly understood, the first-to-file-or-perfect rule confers upon a debtor the power to create a security interest in accounts and other rights to payment that the debtor has already sold and in which it retains no interest. In doing so, the authors take issue with Professor Thomas Plank, whose argument to the contrary appeared in the February 2013 issue of The Business Lawyer.

Rolling Back the Repo Safe Harbors
      Edward R. Morrison, Mark J. Roe, and Christopher S. Sontchi, 69(4): 1015-1048 (August 2014)
Recent decades have seen substantial expansion in exemptions from the Bankruptcy Code’s normal operation for repurchase agreements. These repos, which are equivalent to very short-term (often one-day) secured loans, are exempt from core bankruptcy rules such as the automatic stay that enjoins debt collection, rules against prebankruptcy fraudulent transfers, and rules against eve-of-bankruptcy preferential payment to favored creditors over other creditors. While these exemptions can be justified for United States Treasury securities and similarly liquid obligations backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government, they are not justified for mortgage-backed securities and other securities that could prove illiquid or unable to fetch their expected long-run value in a panic. The exemptions from baseline bankruptcy rules facilitate this kind of panic selling and, according to many expert observers, characterized and exacerbated the financial crisis of 2007–2009. The exemptions from normal bankruptcy rules should be limited to United States Treasury and similar liquid securities, as they once were. The more recent expansion of these exemptions to mortgage-backed securities should be reversed.

Massey Prize for Research in Law, Innovation, and Capital Markets Symposium—Foreword
     70(2): 319-320 (Spring 2015)

Financial Innovation and Governance Mechanisms: The Evolution of Decoupling and Transparency
     Henry T. C. Hu; 70(2): 347-406 (Spring 2015)
Financial innovation has fundamental implications for the key substantive and information-based mechanisms of corporate governance. “Decoupling” undermines classic understandings of the allocation of voting rights among shareholders (via, e.g., “empty voting”), the control rights of debtholders (via, e.g., “empty crediting” and “hidden interests”/ “hidden non-interests”), and of takeover practices (via, e.g., “morphable ownership” to avoid section 13(d) disclosure and to avoid triggering certain poison pills). Stock-based compensation, the monitoring of managerial performance, the market for corporate control, and other governance mechanisms dependent on a robust informational predicate and market efficiency are undermined by the transparency challenges posed by financial innovation. The basic approach to information that the SEC has always used—the “descriptive mode,” which relies on “intermediary depictions” of objective reality—is manifestly insufficient to capture highly complex objective realities, such as the realities of major banks heavily involved with derivatives. Ironically, the primary governmental response to such transparency challenges—a new system for public disclosure that became effective in 2013, the first since the establishment of the SEC—also creates difficulties. This new parallel public disclosure system, developed by bank regulators and applicable to major financial institutions, is not directed primarily at the familiar transparency ends of investor protection and market efficiency.

As starting points, this Article offers brief overviews of: (1) the analytical framework developed in 2006−2008 for “decoupling” and its calls for reform; and (2) the analytical framework developed in 2012−2014 reconceptualizing “information” in terms of three “modes” and addressing the two parallel disclosure universes.

As to decoupling, the Article proceeds to analyze some key post- 2008 developments (including the status of efforts at reform) and the road ahead. A detailed analysis is offered as to the landmark December 2012 TELUS opinion in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, involving perhaps the most complicated public example of decoupling to date. The Article discusses recent actions on the part of the Delaware judiciary and legislature, the European Union, and bankruptcy courts—and the pressing need for more action by the SEC. At the time the debt decoupling research was introduced, available evidence as to the phenomenon’s significance was limited. This Article helps address that gap.

As to information, the Article begins by outlining the calls for reform associated with the 2012−2014 analytical framework. With revolutionary advances in computer- and web-related technologies, regulators need no longer rely almost exclusively on the descriptive mode rooted in intermediary depictions. Regulators must also begin to systematically deploy the “transfer mode” rooted in “pure information” and the “hybrid mode” rooted in “moderately pure information.” The Article then shows some of the key ways that the new analytical framework can contribute to the SEC’s comprehensive and long-needed new initiative to address “disclosure effectiveness,” including in “depiction-difficult” contexts completely unrelated to financial innovation (e.g., pension disclosures and high technology companies). The Article concludes with a concise version of the analytical framework’s thesis that the new morphology of public information—consisting of two parallel regulatory universes with divergent ends and means—is unsustainable in the long run and involve certain matters that need statutory resolution. However, certain steps involving coordination among the SEC, the Federal Reserve, and others can be taken in the interim.

Task Force Introductory Report and Background Considerations Model Intellectual Property Security Agreement
     Model Intellectual Property Security Agreement Task Force, Commercial Finance committee and Uniform Commercial Code committee, ABA Business Law Section, 771(3): 849-932 (Summer 2016)

Oil and Gas Rights in Bankruptcy: Beware the Many Pitfalls for Interest Holders and Creditors
     Richard L. Epling, 74(1) 127-150 (Winter 2018/2019)
Lenders, vendors, pipelines, storage facilities and other businesses that lend money to or do business with the working interest owner/lessors of oil and gas properties often assume that their contractual bargains will prevail over the rights and claims of other participants in the hydrocarbon production process. Such persons often fail to take into account the varied local and state laws affecting the definitions of what is real and personal property, the requirements for perfection and certain overriding priorities granted to field operators, suppliers and vendors in certain cases. Bankruptcy is the crucible for testing these conflicting rights and claims, and there have been some instructive recent developments in several key court decisions.

The Business Lawyer at 75 and Secured Transactions Under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code
     Jonathan C. Lipson and Steven O. Weise75(1): 1575-1596 (Winter 2019-2020)
In honor of the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Business Lawyer (TBL), we reviewed the roughly 400 papers published in TBL on secured transactions since inception, in 1946. We find that, while TBL has always provided excellent coverage of secured credit, earlier works were more likely to focus on questions of policy than those published more recently, which tend to be more technical. This is curious, both because secured transactions have been the subject of sometimes ferocious academic debates in other journals about their distributive effects, and because TBL often includes policy-oriented scholarship in other business-law fields (e.g., corporate governance). We argue that TBL should actively seek papers on secured credit policy, in part because technologies like distributed ledgers may threaten to render all secured transactions . . . academic.