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Commercial Law

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

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The Expressive Function Of Directors’ Duties To Creditors, Jonathan C. Lipson Apr 2007

The Expressive Function Of Directors’ Duties To Creditors, Jonathan C. Lipson

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This Article offers an explanation of the “doctrine” of directors’ duties to creditors. Courts frequently say—but rarely hold—that corporate directors owe duties to or for the benefit of corporate creditors when the corporation is in distress. These cases are puzzling for at least two reasons. First, they link fiduciary duty to priority in right of payment, effectively treating creditors as if they were shareholders, at least for certain purposes. But this ignores the fact that priority is a complex and volatile concept. Moreover, contract and other rights at law usually protect creditors, even (especially) when a firm is distressed. It …