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  1. What semantic notions underlie 1. with c in the OED?

  2. According to c, receivers manages or administers assets. So what exactly do they "receive"?

Paul Davies. JC Smith's The Law of Contract (2018 2 ed). p. 468.

Receiver     a person appointed to manage a company’s assets, when the company is not operating as well as it could be (often in the event of insolvency).

  • I think it originated as a form of relief in the law of real property. A superior landlord would appoint someone to receive the rent due to his immediate tenants from the subtenants, or a mortgagee of agricultural land would appoint someone to receive the income from the farm. I haven't looked at the history but it seems plausible that the powers of the appointee then grew until the role was more active than receiver suggests - but even today, the point of them managing or administering the assets is to enable them to receive... – user339660 May 3 at 8:04
  • ...the products/proceeds of those assets and use them to discharge debts. – user339660 May 3 at 8:07
  • @Minty I also think, but like you can't prove, that the Receiver of a failing enterprise is appointed to receive the income of a business on behalf of the creditors. This means that the proprietor of the business can't appropriate any part of the income to the disadvantage of the creditors. – BoldBen May 3 at 8:09
  • @BoldBen That's an administrator, administrative receiver, or official receiver - not the same as a plain old receiver, who is appointed by one particular creditor and whose actions may well prejudice the other creditors. Although appointed by a creditor, if memory serves the receiver is almost always made the agent of the debtor, so strictly speaking he is receiving the income on the debtor's behalf... but that's a legal device to try to protect the creditor against liability - the real point is to get the appointor's debt paid off. – user339660 May 3 at 8:16
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    Please copy and paste the OED definition into the question body. It is impossible for users and visitors alike to use the search function for images. You can leave text with the image if you feel you cannot replicate the same attention to detail, please bear in mind that there are also users whose eyesight are impaired and require screen readers. Images cannot be "read" by these machines. – Mari-Lou A May 3 at 11:44

It is a legal concept which rests on the notion of the agent noun of receive. In the legal case, the receiver "receives" the rights to act (sell, liquidate, exchange, etc) the property of other people, usually bankrupt, so that creditors can get their money back.

In law, receivership is a situation in which an institution or enterprise is held by a receiver—a person "placed in the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights" —especially in cases where a company cannot meet financial obligations or enters bankruptcy.


  • The common law has long recognised the concept of a receiver. Following the development of the floating charge creditors were effectively able to take security over a company's entire business by means of a floating charge over the undertaking. Security documents generally contained very wide powers of appointment such that on default the creditor could take over the business immediately and without the input of any court. A receiver appointed to the entire business became known as a receiver and manager. The receiver and manager would typically have extensive powers over the business, including the power to sell it at a time and on terms that suited the appointing creditor.


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