Priority refers to the order of preference given to different interests or rights. Priority appears in multiple areas of law regarding debt, equity, bankruptcy, and patents. The most common appearance of priority arises in relations among creditors and security interests. Secured interests and creditors often are bound by different contractual agreements and statutes with different priority in who gets paid first. For corporations, there often are multiple levels of priority in which creditors get paid first and which stockholders get dividends first. In bankruptcy, laws establish in which order that creditors and secured interests get repaid, with very specific regulations delineating priority among different kinds of secured and unsecured creditors.
[Last updated in October of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]