creditor – a person or entity with a definite claim against another, to whom a debt is owed by a debtor; an obligee



1. One to whom a debt is owed; one who gives credit for money or goods. — aka debtee.

2. Roman law. One to whom any obligation is owed, whether contractual or otherwise.  Cf. DEBITOR.

3. A person or entity with a definite claim against another, especially a claim that is capable of adjustment and liquidation.

4. Bankruptcy. A person or entity having a claim against the debtor predating the order for relief concerning the debtor.  Cf. DEBTOR. [1]

1. An obligee, a person, natural or artificial, public or private, in whose favor an obligation exists by reason of which he is or may become entitled to the payment of money, at least if the obligation is one on a liquidated demand based upon an agreement. Henley v Myers, 76 Kan 723, 93 P 168; Lindstrom v Spicher, 53 ND l95, 205 NW 231, 41 ALR 968, 971.

A general creditor, a secured creditor, a lien creditor, and any representative of creditors, including an assignee for the benefit of creditors, a trustee in bankruptcy, a receiver in equity. and an executor or administrator of an insolvent debtor‘s or assignor‘s estate. 15 Am 12d Com C § 7.

As the term appears in an assignment for the benefit of creditors, “creditor” means one who has a definite demand against the assignor, or a cause of action capable of adjustment and liquidation at trial. 6 Am 12d Assign for Crs § 109.

As the term appears in the Bankruptcy Act, unless inconsistent with the context, “creditor” includes anyone who owns a debt, demand or claim provable in bankruptcy, and may include his duly authorized agent, attorney, or proxy. 9 Am J2d Bankr § 389.

Under the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act, a creditor is a person having any claim, whether matured or unmatured, liquidated or unliquidated, absolute, tixed, or contingent. Uniform Fraudulent Conveyance Act § 1, applied in American Surety Co. v Conner, 251 NY 1, 166 NE 783, 65 ALR 244.
     See debtor and creditor relationship. [2]

1. A person to whom a debt is owed by a debtor. [3]

Types of Creditors:

attaching creditor: (18c) A creditor who has caused an attachment to be issued and levied on the debtor’s property.

bona fide creditor: (1827) A creditor who receives payment for value that it has provided and who may therefore be allowed to keep the payment even if it was made by mistake or with money wrongfully taken from another party, so long as the recipient had no notice of the problem and is not to blame for it.  *  The recipient is known then as a bona fide creditor, by analogy to the position of a bonafide purchaser.  So if an insurance company mistakenly pays a hospital to cover treatment of a patient, but then discovers that the patient was not entitled to coverage, many courts will reject the insurer’s claim for recovery against the hospital. — aka bona fide payee.

     Excerpt from City of Hope Nat’l Med. Ctr. v. Superior Court, 8 Cal. App. 4th 633, 636-37 (1992):

     “As a general rule, equitable concepts of unjust enrichment dictate that when a payment is made based upon a mistake of fact, the payor is entitled to restitution unless the payee has, in reliance on the payment, materially changed its position.  Restitution will be denied, however, if the mistaken payment is made to a bona fide creditor of a third person — a creditor without fault because it made no misrepresentations to the payor and because it had no notice of the payor’s mistake at the time the payment was made. [4]

bond creditor: (18c) A creditor whose debt is secured by a bond.

catholic creditor: (18c) Scots law. Someone who has a security interest in more than one piece of the debtor’s property.

certificate creditor: A creditor of a municipal corporation who receives a certificate of indebtedness rather than payment because the municipality cannot pay the debt.  Cf. warrant creditor.

conditional creditor: (1932) Civil law. A creditor who has either a future right of action or a right of action in expectancy.

contingent creditor: (18c) Someone who will be owed a debt at some future time if some event occurs.

creditor at large: (1852) A creditor who has not established the debt by reducing it to judgment, or who has not otherwise secured a lien on any of the debtor’s property.  See unsecured creditor.

domestic creditor: (18c) A creditor who resides in the same state or country as the debtor or the debtor’s property.

double creditor: (1889) A creditor who has a lien on two funds.  Cf. single creditor.

execution creditor: ( 18c) A judgment creditor who has caused an execution to issue on the judgment.

foreign creditor: (18c) A creditor who resides in a different state or country from that of the debtor or the debtor’s property.

gap creditor: (1957) Bankruptcy. A creditor who extends credit to, lends money to, or has a claim arise against the debtor in the period between the filing of an involuntary bankruptcy petition and the entry of the order for relief.  *  Under the Bankruptcy Code, a gap creditor’s claim receives second priority, immediately below administrative claims. 11 USCA §§ 502(f), 507(a)(2). > general creditor.  See unsecured creditor.

hypothetical creditor: (1943) Bankruptcy. An actual or code-created judicial-lien creditor or bona fide purchaser who establishes a bankruptcy trustee’s status under the Bankruptcy Code’s priority scheme, claiming property through the debtor at the time of the bankruptcy filing. 11 USCA § 544. — aka hypothetical lien creditor.

joint creditor: (18c) A creditor who is entitled, along with another creditor, to demand payment from a debtor.

judgment creditor: See JUDGMENT CREDITOR.

junior creditor: (18c) A creditor whose claim accrued after that of another creditor; a creditor who holds a debt that is subordinate to another’s.

known creditor: (18c) A creditor whose identity or claim is either known or reasonably ascertainable by the debtor.  *  Known creditors are entitled to notice of the debtor’s bankruptcy or corporate dissolution, as well as notice of any deadline for filing proofs of claim.

lien creditor: (1821) A creditor Whose claim is secured by a lien on the debtor’s property; specif., someone who is (1) a creditor that has acquired a lien by attachment, levy, \or the like, (2) an assignee for the benefit of creditors from the time of assignment, (3) a trustee in bankruptcy from the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition, or (4) a receiver in equity from the time of appointment. UCC § 9-102(a)(52).

preferred creditor: (18c) A creditor with a superior right to payment, such as a holder of a perfected security interest as compared to a holder of an unsecured claim.

principal creditor: (17c) A creditor whose claim or demand greatly exceeds the claims of other creditors.

prior creditor: (17c) A creditor who is given priority in payment from the debtor’s assets.

secondary creditor: (18c) A creditor whose claim is subordinate to a preferred. creditor’s.

secured creditor: (1858) A creditor who has the right, on the debtor’s default, to proceed against collateral and apply it to the payment of the debt. UCC § 9-102(a)(73). — aka secured party.

     Excerpt from UCC §  9-102(a)(73):

     “‘Secured party’ means: (A) a person in whose favor a security interest is created or provided for under a security agreement, whether or not any obligation to be secured is outstanding; (B) a person that holds an agricultural lien; (C) a consignor; (D) a person to which accounts, chattel paper, payment intangibles, or promissory notes have been sold; (E) a trustee, indenture trustee, agent, collateral agent, or other representative in whose favor a security interest or agricultural lien is created or provided for; or (F) a person that holds a security interest under Section 2-401, 2-505,2-711(3), 2A-508(5), 4-210, or 5-118.” 

single creditor: (18c) In the marshaling of assets, a creditor with a lien on one fund. See RULE OF MARSHALING ASSETS.  Cf. double creditor:

specialty creditor: (1826) A creditor to whom an heir is liable for a decedent’s debts to the extent of the land inherited.  *  Historically, unless the creditor obtained a judgment against the debtor before the debtor’s death, the creditor’s right of action on the debt was limited to the decedent’s lawful heir. If the debtor devised the land to a stranger, the creditor’s claim was defeated.  See HEIR (1).

     Excerpt from G.C. Cheshire’s Modern Law of Real Property (3d ed. 1933):

     “There were three exceptions to this rule that a fee simple estate was not liable to the creditors of the deceased.  Debts due to the Crown and debts due to judgment creditors were enforceable against the land notwithstanding the death of the owner, and thirdly, if the fee simple tenant had in his lifetime executed a deed whereby he covenanted for himself and his heirs to pay a sum of money, the creditor (called a specialty creditor) could make the heir liable for the debt to the extent of the land which had descended to him.  But this privilege of the specialty creditor was not at first enforceable against an equitable fee simple, and it was strictly limited to a right of action against the heir of the deceased, so that the creditor was defrauded of his money if the deceased devised his land to a stranger. [5]

subsequent creditor: (18c) A creditor whose claim comes into existence after a given fact or transaction, such as the recording of a deed or the execution of a voluntary conveyance.

unsecured creditor: (1838) A creditor who, upon giving credit, takes no rights against specific property of the debtor. — aka general creditor.  See creditor at large.

warrant creditor: A creditor of a municipal corporation who is given a municipal warrant for the amount of the claim because the municipality lacks the funds to pay the debt.  Cf. certificate creditor.


creditor beneficiary: See BENEFICIARY.

creditor dominii: [Law Latin] Hist. The creditor who is entitled to ownership of an object; a secured creditor.

creditor’s bill: (1826) An equitable suit in which a judgment creditor seeks to reach property that cannot be reached by the process available to enforce a judgment. — aka creditor’s suit.

creditor’s claim: See CLAIM (5).

creditors’ committee: (1874) Bankruptcy. A committee comprising representatives of the creditors in a Chapter 11 proceeding, formed to negotiate the debtor’s plan of reorganization.  *  Generally, a committee has no fewer than 3 and no more than 11 members and serves as an advisory body. 11 USCA § 1102. — aka committee of creditors.

creditors’ composition: See COMPOSITION (2).

creditors’ meeting: See MEETING.

creditor’s petition: See involuntary petition under PETITION (1).

creditors’ rights: (17c) 1. The interests or claims of a person who or entity that is owed a debt. 2. The procedures, usually defined by statute, to collect these interests or claims, such as garnishment of wages or the seizure and sale of property. 3. The branch of law relating to these procedures. — aka creditor’s rights.

creditors’ scheme of arrangement: See SCHEME 0F ARRANGEMENT.

creditor’s suit: See CREDITOR’S BILL.

creditors’ voluntary winding up: See involuntary winding up under WINDING UP.

credit plan: (1918) A financing arrangement under which a borrower and a lender agree to terms for a loan’s repayment with interest, usually in installments.

open-end credit plan: (1967) A plan under which a creditor reasonably expects repeated transactions, prescribes terms for those transactions, and includes a finance charge that may be periodically computed on the outstanding balance. 15 USCA § 16020).

credit property insurance: See INSURANCE.

credit rating: (1958) An evaluation of a potential borrower’s ability to repay debt, prepared by a credit bureau at the request of a lender.

Credit Repair Organizations Act: A 1996 federal statute amending the Consumer Credit Protection Act to regulate the advertising and business practices of credit repair organizations that use any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails. 15 USCA §§ 1679~ 1679j. — Abbr. CROA.

credit report: (1898) 1. A credit bureau’s report on a person’s financial status, usu. including the approximate amounts and locations of a person’s ban accounts, charge accounts, loans, and other debts, bill-paying habits, defaults, bankruptcies, foreclosures, marital status, occupation, income, and lawsuits. See CREDIT BUREAU. 2. The report of a credit-reporting bureau, usu. including highly personal information gathered through interviews with a person’s friends, neighbors, and coworkers. See CREDIT REPORTING BUREAU.

credit-reporting bureau: (1904) An organization that, on request, prepares.investigative reports not just on people’s creditworthiness but also on personal information gathered from various sources, including interviews with neighbors, friends, and coworkers. 0 These reports are used chiefly by employers (for prospective employees), insurance companies (for applicants), and landlords (for prospective tenants). — aka investigating bureau. Cf. CREDIT BUREAU.

creditrix: n. [fr. Latin credere “to lend, entrust”] (17c) Civil law. Archaic. A female creditor.

credit sale: See SALE.

credit service charge: See SERVICE CHARGE (2).

credit-shelter trust: See bypass trust under TRUST (3).

credit slip: (1903) A document that allows a store customer to either purchase another item or receive cash or credit for merchandise the customer has returned to the store.

credit union: (1881) A cooperative association that offers low-interest loans and other consumer banking services to persons Sharing a common bond — often fellow employees and their family members.  *  Most credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration. State-chartered credit unions are also subject to regulation by the chartering state, and they may be regulated by state banking boards.

creditworthy: adj. (1840) (Of a potential borrower) financially sound enough that a lender will extend credit in the belief that default is unlikely; fiscally healthy.creditworthiness, n.

credit mobilier: (1856) A company or association that carries on a banking business by making loans on the security of personal property.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: City of Hope Nat’l Med. Ctr. v. Superior Court, 8 Cal. App. 4th 633, 636-37 (1992) (internal citations omitted).

[5]: G.C. Cheshire, Modern Law of Real Property 738 (3d ed. 1933).


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