Bankruptcy - ISDA Provision

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2002 ISDA Master Agreement

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ISDA Text: 5(a)(vii)

5(a)(vii) Bankruptcy. The party, any Credit Support Provider of such party or any applicable Specified Entity of such party:―
(1) is dissolved (other than pursuant to a consolidation, amalgamation or merger);
(2) becomes insolvent or is unable to pay its debts or fails or admits in writing its inability generally to pay its debts as they become due;
(3) makes a general assignment, arrangement or composition with or for the benefit of its creditors;
(A) institutes or has instituted against it, by a regulator, supervisor or any similar official with primary insolvency, rehabilitative or regulatory jurisdiction over it in the jurisdiction of its incorporation or organisation or the jurisdiction of its head or home office, a proceeding seeking a judgment of insolvency or bankruptcy or any other relief under any bankruptcy or insolvency law or other similar law affecting creditors’ rights, or a petition is presented for its winding-up or liquidation by it or such regulator, supervisor or similar official, or
(B) has instituted against it a proceeding seeking a judgment of insolvency or bankruptcy or any other relief under any bankruptcy or insolvency law or other similar law affecting creditors’ rights, or a petition is presented for its winding-up or liquidation, and such proceeding or petition is instituted or presented by a person or entity not described in clause (A) above and either
(I) results in a judgment of insolvency or bankruptcy or the entry of an order for relief or the making of an order for its winding-up or liquidation or
(II) is not dismissed, discharged, stayed or restrained in each case within 15 days of the institution or presentation thereof;
(5) has a resolution passed for its winding-up, official management or liquidation (other than pursuant to a consolidation, amalgamation or merger);
(6) seeks or becomes subject to the appointment of an administrator, provisional liquidator, conservator, receiver, trustee, custodian or other similar official for it or for all or substantially all its assets;
(7) has a secured party take possession of all or substantially all its assets or has a distress, execution, attachment, sequestration or other legal process levied, enforced or sued on or against all or substantially all its assets and such secured party maintains possession, or any such process is not dismissed, discharged, stayed or restrained, in each case within 15 days thereafter;
(8) causes or is subject to any event with respect to it which, under the applicable laws of any jurisdiction, has an analogous effect to any of the events specified in clauses (1) to (7) above (inclusive); or
(9) takes any action in furtherance of, or indicating its consent to, approval of, or acquiescence in, any of the foregoing acts; or

Related agreements and comparisons

Click here for the text of Section 5(a)(vii) in the 1992 ISDA
Click to compare this section in the 1992 ISDA and 2002 ISDA.

Resources and Navigation

This provision in the 1992

Resources Wikitext | Nutshell wikitext | 1992 ISDA wikitext | 2002 vs 1992 Showdown | 2006 ISDA Definitions | 2008 ISDA | JC’s ISDA code project
Navigation Preamble | 1(a) (b) (c) | 2(a) (b) (c) (d) | 3(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) | 4(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) | 55(a) Events of Default: 5(a)(i) Failure to Pay or Deliver 5(a)(ii) Breach of Agreement 5(a)(iii) Credit Support Default 5(a)(iv) Misrepresentation 5(a)(v) Default Under Specified Transaction 5(a)(vi) Cross Default 5(a)(vii) Bankruptcy 5(a)(viii) Merger Without Assumption 5(b) Termination Events: 5(b)(i) Illegality 5(b)(ii) Force Majeure Event 5(b)(iii) Tax Event 5(b)(iv) Tax Event Upon Merger 5(b)(v) Credit Event Upon Merger 5(b)(vi) Additional Termination Event (c) (d) (e) | 6(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) | 7 | 8(a) (b) (c) (d) | 9(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) | 10 | 11 | 12(a) (b) | 13(a) (b) (c) (d) | 14 |

Index: Click to expand:



There are two differences between the 1992 ISDA and 2002 ISDA definitions of Bankruptcy.

First, the 2002 ISDA has a slightly more specific concept of “insolvency”. In limb 4 (insolvency proceedings) a new limb has been included to cover action taken by an entity-specific regulator or supervisor (as opposed to a common or garden insolvency proceeding): If initiated by a regulator, the game’s up as soon as the action is taken. If initiated by a random creditor, the action must have resulted in a winding-up order, or at least not have been discharged in 15 (not 30) days.

About that grace period. Second, and unnervingly for those of little faith in their own accounts payble departments, the grace period in which one must arrange the dismissal of a vexations or undeserving insolvency petition (under 5(a)(vii)(4)) or the exercise of security over assets (under 5(a)(vii)(7)) is compressed from 30 days to 15 days.



The truncating the grace period from 30 days in the 1992 ISDA to 15 days in the 2002 ISDA has, in aggregate over the whole global market, kept many a negotiator in “meaningful” employment. It has also been a large reason why many organisations did not move to the 2002 ISDA and of those who eventually did — organisations whom you’d think would know better — then set about amending these grace periods back to the 1992 ISDA standard of 30 days or better still, insisted on sticking with the 1992 ISDA, but upgrading every part of it to the 2002 ISDA except for the Bankruptcy and Failure to Pay grace periods. A spectacular use of ostensibly limited resources, and an insight into whose benefit organisations really operate for.

Regional bankruptcy variations

The Germanic lands have peculiar ideas when it comes to bankruptcy — particularly as regards banks, so expect to see odd augmentations and tweaks to ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ standard language. Will these make any practical difference? Almost certainly not: it is hard to see any competent authority in Germany, Switzerland or Austria — storeyed nations all, in the long history of banking, after all — not understanding how to resolve a bank without blowing up its netting portfolio. Especially since Basel, where the netting regulations were formulated, is actually in Switzerland.

We have a whole page about Swiss Bankruptcy Language. True story.

The market standard “bankruptcy” definition

The ISDA bankruptcy definition is rarely a source of great controversy (except for the grace period, which gets negotiated only through custom amongst ISDA negotiators because, in its wisdom, ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ thought fit to halve it from 30 days to 15 in the 2002 ISDA.

So you have a sort of pas-de-deux between negotiators where they argue about it for a while before getting tired, being shouted at by their business people, and moving on to something more important to argue about, like Cross Default).[1]

Otherwise, the ISDA bankruptcy clause is a much loved and well-used market standard and you often see it being co-opted into other trading agreements precisely because everyone knows it and no one really argues about it.

1987 ISDA and Automatic Early Termination

Note, for students of history, Automatic Early Termination is (was, right? Oh, come on, guys —) problematic under the 1987 ISDA.

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See also



  1. This, by the way, is an ISDA In-joke. In fact, Cross Default is pretty much pointless, a fact that every ISDA ninja and credit officer knows, but none will admit on the record. It is the love that dare not speak its name.