Secured Creditor


  • What are Secured Creditors? 
  • Rights of Secured Creditors in Case of Default 
  • Importance of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) 
  • Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Creditors 
  • Challenges Faced By Secured Creditors 

What are Secured Creditors? 

Secured creditors are individuals or institutions that have lent money to a company with the provision that they receive a security interest against the companys assets. This security interest can be in the form of a mortgage on real property or as a charge against personal or company assets. It ensures that the creditor has a legal claim to the specified assets should the company fail to meet its repayment obligations. 

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Rights of Secured Creditors in Case of Default 

When a company defaults on its obligations to secured creditors, these creditors are afforded specific rights to recover the owed debt. These rights include: 

Appointment of a Receiver

Secured creditors have the authority to appoint a receiver. This individual, who must be independent and suitably qualified, is tasked with taking control of the assets over which the security interest has been granted. The receiver’s role involves managing, and if necessary, selling these assets to repay the debt owed to the secured creditor.  

This right remains effective even if the company enters into liquidation, ensuring secured creditors have a pathway to recover their investments. 

Engaging the Liquidator

Alternatively, secured creditors can request the liquidator appointed to oversee the liquidation process of the company to manage the secured assets on their behalf. This involves the liquidator taking responsibility for the collection, management, and sale of these assets.  

The liquidator then accounts to the secured creditor for the proceeds from these sales after deducting the costs associated with their collection and sale. This option provides a mechanism for secured creditors to recover debts without directly involving themselves in the asset realisation process. 

Thus, the rights granted to secured creditors acknowledge the reduced risk they assume by lending against specific assets. These rights ensure that, in the event of a default, secured creditors have preferential treatment in the recovery process, highlighting the importance of the security interest in providing financial stability and predictability. 

Voting Rights and Participation in Dividends

Voting in Creditors’ Meetings 

Secured creditors possess the right to participate and vote in creditors’ meetings, a critical aspect of the liquidation process. Their voting power is calculated based on the outstanding debt owed to them by the company, minus the value they expect to recover through the sale of the secured assets. This difference is referred to as their shortfall.  

This mechanism ensures that while secured creditors have a preferential claim on certain assets, they also share in the collective decision making process with other creditors regarding the company’s future, based on the unsecured portion of their claim. 

Participation in Dividends 

In scenarios where assets are liquidated and proceeds are distributed among creditors, secured creditors may also receive a share of any dividends distributed to unsecured creditors, but only in relation to their shortfall. This ensures that if the realisation of secured assets does not fully cover the debt owed, secured creditors are still able to recover a portion of the remaining debt alongside unsecured creditors. 

Importance of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) 

Enforcing Security Interests

The Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) plays a pivotal role in the legal framework governing secured transactions. It serves as a centralised registry where security interests in personal property, excluding land, can be registered by creditors. The primary purpose of this registration is to legally enforce the creditors security interest, ensuring that their claim to the secured assets is recognised and upheld in the event of the debtors insolvency. 

Priority in Insolvency

Registration of a security interest on the PPSR not only validates the creditor’s claim but also determines the priority of their claim in comparison to other creditors. In insolvency proceedings, the order in which creditors are paid is crucial, and registered security interests typically receive higher priority. T 

This means that in the distribution of the insolvent company’s assets, creditors with registered interests on the PPSR will have their claims addressed before those with unregistered interests or unsecured claims. 

The system established by the PPSR underscores the legal framework’s intention to provide clarity and fairness in the treatment of secured creditors, ensuring that their rights are protected and clearly defined in the face of a debtor’s insolvency. This contributes to a more predictable and secure lending environment, benefiting both creditors and debtors. 

Difference Between Secured and Unsecured Creditors 

Secured and unsecured creditors are differentiated primarily by the presence or absence of a security interest against the debtors assets. Here are the clear cut differences between the two: 

Security Interest

  • Secured Creditors have a security interest in the form of collateral, such as property or other assets, to secure the debt owed to them by the debtor. If the debtor fails to repay the debt, secured creditors have the right to take possession of the secured assets to satisfy the debt. 
  • Unsecured Creditors do not have any collateral securing the debts owed to them. Their ability to recover the debt relies solely on the debtor’s ability to pay rather than on any specific assets. 

Priority in Debt Repayment

  • Secured Creditors are given priority over unsecured creditors when it comes to the repayment of debts, especially in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation. After the sale of secured assets, they are the first to be paid from the proceeds. 
  • Unsecured Creditors are lower in the repayment hierarchy. They are paid after secured creditors and often receive a smaller proportion of their claims, sometimes receiving nothing at all if the debtor’s assets are insufficient. 

Legal Action for Debt Recovery

  • Secured Creditors can take direct action to recover the debts by seizing and selling the assets securing the debt. This process can be initiated without the need to go to court, depending on the terms of the security agreement. 
  • Unsecured Creditors generally must seek a court judgement to pursue debt recovery, which can then lead to actions like garnishing the debtor’s wages or levying the debtor’s bank accounts, among other methods. 

Risk and Interest Rates

  • Secured Creditors face lower risk as their loans are backed by collateral. Consequently, they often offer lower interest rates compared to unsecured loans due to the reduced risk of default. 
  • Unsecured Creditors assume a higher risk since their loans are not backed by collateral. To compensate for this increased risk, unsecured loans typically come with higher interest rates. 


  • Secured Creditors include mortgage banks (holding a mortgage against a house), auto loan lenders (holding a lien on a vehicle), and equipment financiers. 
  • Unsecured Creditors include credit card companies, utility providers, and medical facilities that provide services without securing assets against the debts incurred. 

Challenges Faced By Secured Creditors 

Secured creditors, while holding a stronger position due to their secured interests in a companys assets, encounter unique challenges, especially when a debtor company faces financial difficulties or enters insolvency. These include: 

Valuation and Realisation of Security

Determining the accurate value of the secured assets can be challenging, especially in volatile markets or when the assets are specialised with a limited number of buyers. Realising (selling) these assets to recover the owed amount can also prove difficult, potentially leading to sales at undervalue. 

Competing Security Interests

Secured creditors might face challenges from other creditors with competing security interests, especially when there are overlapping claims on the same assets. Prioritising these claims and dealing with the complexities of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) registration errors or omissions can complicate recovery efforts. 

Insolvency Proceedings

The process of voluntary administration, liquidation, or receivership introduces specific statutory frameworks that must be navigated. These processes can limit secured creditors control over the secured assets and may result in the appointment of an external administrator who takes over the decision making process, potentially leading to outcomes that are less favourable for the secured creditors. 

Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

Secured creditors must navigate a complex landscape of legal and regulatory requirements, including compliance with the Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA) in Australia. Failure to correctly register a security interest, or doing so in a timely manner, can jeopardise the enforceability and priority of the security interest, significantly impacting the creditors rights. 

Restructuring Plans

In cases where the debtor company undergoes a restructuring plan, such as through a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA), secured creditors may find their ability to realise their security interest impacted. Restructuring plans can alter the terms of repayment or propose delays, affecting the recovery timeline and potentially the recovery amount. 

Public Perception and Brand Image

Secured creditors enforcing their security interests, especially through asset seizure and sale, may face public relations challenges. The perception of taking legal action against financially distressed companies can impact a creditors brand image and customer relations. 

Cross Border Security Interests

For creditors involved with companies that have assets in multiple jurisdictions, enforcing security interests across borders presents additional legal and logistical challenges. Different countries have varying laws regarding secured transactions and insolvency, complicating recovery efforts. 

This article is general information only and does not provide advice to address your personal circumstances. To make an informed decision you should contact an appropriately qualified professional.