Affected Party - ISDA Provision
2002 ISDA Master Agreement
Definition of Affected Party in full
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Not even ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ could confect something worthwhile to say which might improve this Spartan piece of text. But note the concept of Affected Party is sprayed liberally throughout Section 5(b), and it means something different in almost every context so you’re guaranteed to have fun there.
One who is subject to a Section 5(b) Termination Event, but not a Section 5(a) Event of Default — thus one of a marginally less opprobrious character, seeing as Termination Events are generally not considered to be one’s fault as such, but just sad things that happen that no-one expected, or wanted, but bring what was once a beautiful relationship to an end. It’s not you, it’s — well, it’s not me either — it’s just that confounded tax event that occurred upon your recent merger.
Note that, in its wisdom, ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ chose not to have a generic term for the sort of person who is subject to either a Termination Event or an Event of Default, so there is much “Defaulting Party and/or Affected Party, as the case may be” sort of malarkey. This depresses we prose stylists, but ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ has never cared about us, so we should hardly be surprised.
And given its relentless quest for infinitesimal particularity — and accepting for a moment it is warranted — perhaps ISDA’s crack drafting squad™ has a point, for “Affected Party” appears in subtly different guises in each of the Termination Events. Sometimes there is one Affected Party; sometimes there are two. Where there are two Affected Parties there is not a “victim” and a “perpetrator” as such, but you are in this odd new millennial world where everyone’s a victim, either party may trigger the Termination Event, both may estimate replacement prices on termination and they have to split the difference.
Events of Default vs. Termination Events: Showdown
Puzzled ISDA ingénues may wonder why there are Events of Default and Termination Events under the, er, eye-ess-dee-aye. In any weather, there seem to be rather a lot of them. And there is a third, hidden category: Additional Termination Events that the parties crowbar into the Schedule.
Do we really need all these, and what is the difference?
- Events of Default tend to imply fault, turpitude, moral outrage, and are comprehensive — some would say overcomprehensive — Failure to Pay; Breach; Credit Support Default; Misrepresentation; Bankruptcy and — here we’re well and truly in over-comprehensive territory — Cross Default.
- Termination Events tend to be unwanted vicissitudes of commercial life which neither party could anticipate, and are often Transaction-specific — Illegality, Force Majeure; Tax Events.
- Just in case you are worried ISDA’s crack drafting squad™, with the collective weight of the whole derivatives industry urging it on, might have forgotten something important over 30 years of the ISDA Master Agreement you can make up your own ones. These are the “Additional Termination Events”: they are treated like Termination Events, but tend to be more (in terms of moral outrage) like Events of Default. You will spend many years of your life arguing about these, but they will never get used..
So, with feeling:
- Naughtiness: Imply a degree of turpitude on the part of the TRANSGRESSOR. Termination Events are sort of gentler and fluffier (although ATEs are often quite turpitudinous);
- All or none: Exercising an Event of Default necessitates terminating all outstandingTransactions; invoking a Termination Event may only affect specific “Affected Transactions” (but again, ATEs are often both turpitudinous and (for that very reason) impact necessarily on all outstanding Transactions;
- Calculations: The Non-Defaulting Party always makes the termination calculations; in a Termination Event (if both parties are affected) they share it and split the difference;
- Default interest: The interest accrual rate for your Close-Out Amount is different (i.e., higher) following an Event of Default than following a Termination Event. Because — turpitude, right?
- Notice: oblige the Affected Party to fess up about them — a fair expectation, since the Affected Party hasn’t been actively turpitudinous in the Termination Event coming about and can be still expected to act in good faith; Events of Default generally don’t, for the same reason: Dude has materially breached your contract. What skin is it off dude’s nose to further breach it, by not owning up?
- Some Termination Events only arise only once the Affected Party has failed to transfer obligations away to a party who wouldn’t be an Affected Party.
For details freaks
This might be a function of the market’s general move to the 2002 ISDA closeout methodology, being far less fraught and bamboozling then the one in the 1992 ISDA, refraining as it does from absurdities like the First Method and alternative Market and Loss methods of valuing replacement transactions. Even those who insist on staying with the 1992 ISDA — Hello, Cleveland! — are often persuaded to upgrade the closeout methodology.
It might also be that the specific expertise as to what happens in a close out has dissipated over the years as swap dealers and investment managers have outsourced and downskilled their negotiation functions.
But the JC likes to think that in this mature market, the commercial imperative plays a part here. Termination Events come in two types: catastrophic ones, which signal the end of the relationship — and usually the ongoing viability of one of the counterparties — altogether; and Transaction-specific ones, which no-one intended or wanted, everyone regrets, but which will soon be water under the bridge, for parties who will continue to trade new derivatives into glorious, golden perpetuity.
Now any swap dealer who regards a Transaction-specific Termination Event as an opportunity to gouge its counterparty can expect a frosty reception next time its salespeople are pitching new trading axes to the CIO.
On the other hand if, when your valuation reaches her, the CIO is wandering around outside her building with an Iron Mountain box, she will be less bothered about the wantonness of your termination mark — it being no longer her problem — and as far as she does care about it all, will console herself with the reality that you are not likely to see much of that money anyway once her former employer’s insolvency estate has been wound up.
- ~Grimaces~ Right. Moment over.
- The sorts of people who are interested in learning about sw-æps under an eye-ess-dee-aye. Come on, you were one once.
- Controversial view: No, except to protect the livelihoods of an entire cottage industry of sheeple.
- You will never guess who.
- Please write to me, at email@example.com, if you ever encounter a close-out — a real, actually-gone-through-with-it, Section 6, whole-ISDA close out based purely on an Additional Termination Event (or, actually, any event other than a Failure to Pay or Deliver or a Bankruptcy) You will be my Black Swan.
- I mean the Defaulting Party.
- Though this won’t stop excitable credit officers seeking to add that obligation in the negotiation.
- For the record, I put the golden age of ISDA negotiation as late 90s, early noughties. We were young, carefree, crazy kids.