Intercreditor Agreements in Bankruptcy

November 20, 2012


An "intercreditor agreement" can be defined as an agreement that sets forth the relative rights, priorities and remedies among one or more lenders with respect to one or more common debtors. The enforceability of an intercreditor agreement in the context of a bankruptcy case is addressed in Section 510(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[a] subordination agreement is enforceable in a case under this title to the same extent that such agreement is enforceable under applicable nonbankruptcy law.” 11 U.S.C. § 510(a). In view of this seemingly clear, unambiguous language, it would seem that courts considering the enforceability of subordination agreements in the context of a bankruptcy case would only need to review and apply relevant nonbankruptcy law. However, whether an intercreditor agreement is a subordination agreement included within the protection of 11 U.S.C. § 510(a) is a valid question. In fact, earlier case law addressing the enforceability of a subordination agreement, or at least some of its provisions, in the context of a bankruptcy case concluded that the scope of Section 510(a) of the Bankruptcy Code is far narrower than meets the eye.

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