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n. the right to be first or ahead of the rights or claims of others. In bankruptcy law, the right to collect before other creditors is given to taxing authorities, judgment holders, secured creditors, bankruptcy trustees and attorneys. The right also can apply to mortgages, deeds of trusts or liens given priority in the order they were recorded (in the "race to the courthouse").
PRIORITY. Going before; opposed to posteriority. (q.v.)
2. He who has the precedency in time has the advantage in right, is the maxim of the law; not that time, considered barely in itself, can make any such difference, but because the whole power over a thing being secured to one person, this bars all others from obtaining a title to it afterwards. 1 Fonb. Eq. 320.
3. In the payment of debts, the United States are entitled to priority when the debtor is insolvent, or dies and leaves an insolvent estate. The priority was declared to extend to cases in which the insolvent debtor had made a voluntary assignment of all his property, or in which his effects had been attached as an absconding or absent debtor, on which an act of legal bankruptcy had been committed. 1 Kent, Com. 243; 1 Law Intell. 219, 251; and the cases there cited.
4. Among common creditors, he who has the oldest lien has the preference; it being a maxim both of law and equity, qui prior est tempore, potior est jure. 2 John. Ch. R. 608. Vide Insolvency; and Serg. Const. La*, Index, h.t.