By Adam C. Rogoff and Ashland J. Bernard (Kramer Levin)
One feature commonly seen in commercial lending transactions is a waiver of the borrower’s authority to file for bankruptcy without the consent of the lender. While such “blocking” provisions are generally upheld where the equity interest holders are the parties with such rights, they are generally unenforceable as a matter of public policy when such protection is given to a creditor with no meaningful ownership interest in the corporate debtor.
In a recent decision issued in In re Roberson Cartridge Co., LLC, Case No. 22-20192 (RLJ), 2023 Bankr. LEXIS 588 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. March 7, 2023), the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas denied a secured creditor’s motion to dismiss the corporate debtor’s Chapter 7 case on the grounds that the petition was filed without the requisite corporate authority. In doing so, the bankruptcy court held void as against public policy a blocking provision in the company’s governing documents, which purported to give the creditor — which held convertible debt of the debtor — the exclusive right to consent to the debtor’s bankruptcy filing. Through an analysis of the company’s governing documents under applicable provisions of the Texas Business Organizations Code, the bankruptcy court concluded that a pledge of equity by the debtor-LLC’s member did not divest the LLC’s manager from corporate authority to file for bankruptcy. Nor was the consent right enforceable with respect to convertible debt where, prior to the bankruptcy filing, the creditor had not exercised its right to convert the debt to equity (and therefore was only a creditor on the petition date). This ruling of a bankruptcy court in the Fifth Circuit joins the growing body of case law from other circuits that holds such bankruptcy-restrictive contractual provisions void as a matter of public policy.
Click here to read the full article.