Jonathan Klick and Max M. Schanzenbach
This chapter offers an empirical analysis of fiduciary law, focusing on whether fiduciaries react to changes in fiduciary standards and which fiduciary rules maximize social welfare. Empirical studies of fiduciary law across three areas are discussed: corporate governance, fiduciary investment, and medical malpractice. The chapter considers fiduciary principles in corporate governance by looking at the duties of care and loyalty, citing empirical evidence implying that fiduciary duties in the corporate governance context influence corporate decision-making. It also examines the law of fiduciary investment, drawing on empirical evidence across three key areas: the implementation of the Prudent Investor Rule in private trusts, management of charitable trusts and prudent distributions, and the consequences of potentially conflicted advice to retirement savers. Finally, it explores the duty of care in the context of medical provider-patient relationships and the duty of loyalty in physician-client relationships.
John C. P. Goldberg
Fiduciary duties of care are at once familiar and strange. They partake of many of the characteristics of duties of care in other domains of private law, particularly tort law. But they also bear the distinctive marks of the fiduciary context. This chapter identifies two ways in which fiduciary duties of care tend to be distinct from tort duties of care. First, with some important exceptions, they are less demanding and less vigorously enforced. Second, breaches of the fiduciary duty of care can give rise to liability even if no injury results to the beneficiary. These distinctive features, the chapter argues, reflect judicial efforts to harmonize the fiduciary’s duty of care with her duty of loyalty. As such, they are defensible, even if not in all respects justified.
Andrew S. Gold
This chapter addresses the fiduciary duty of loyalty. Loyalty is a central concept in fiduciary law, even as scholars differ on whether we should reason from fiduciary relationships to loyalty obligations, or the other way around. Nonetheless, the common view across jurisdictions and across theories is that loyalty is vital to fiduciary relationships. This chapter first provides an overview of the core features of fiduciary loyalty, with particular emphasis on the no-conflict rules, which have two basic components: a rule against conflicts of interest and a rule against conflicts of duty. It then considers the no-profit rule and how it relates to the rules against conflicts of interest, along with duties of good faith and disclosure and the link between fiduciary loyalty and other obligations. It also discusses remedies that are generally associated with breach of loyalty, including the disgorgement remedy, as well as specific contexts that modify the effect or scope of fiduciary loyalty obligations (for example, contractual modifications of legal default rules or cases where there are multiple beneficiaries), and additional factors that affect application of the fiduciary duty of loyalty. The chapter concludes with an analysis of theories that explain fiduciary loyalty as a category.
Sung Hui Kim
This chapter argues that the common law of fiduciary obligation contains an anticorruption norm, which broadly (albeit inconsistently) proscribes and remedies the use of an entrusted position for self-regarding gain. Section II begins with the conventional definition of public corruption, the use of public office for private gain, to derive a general definition of corruption that is applicable to both public and private sector contexts. Corruption is generally defined as the use of an entrusted position for self-regarding gain. Section III argues that courts have aimed to prevent corruption and invoked the anticorruption norm in cases applying fiduciary law’s proscriptive rules, the no-conflict and no-profit rules, in various fiduciary contexts. These rules are generally grounded in the rationale that fiduciaries should avoid being tempted into using their positions to seek their own advantage. Section IV argues that one of the main insights to be gained from understanding that fiduciary law contains an anticorruption norm is that fiduciary law helps to preserve and promote the legitimacy of important social institutions. While this chapter principally relies on the prevailing “public-office-centered” definition of corruption, which is used by contemporary social scientists and which attempts to identify corrupt behavior, it shows how a broader, classical understanding of corruption, which emphasizes the moral decay and depravity of an individual’s character, has also informed fiduciary law.
Henry E. Smith
This chapter explores the relationship between fiduciary law and equity, focusing on an idea that largely determines the place of fiduciary law in private law: that fiduciary law is equitable. In this regard, the term “equitable” implies that fiduciary law serves a characteristic equitable function, a function that solves problems of high variability and uncertainty through higher-order or metalaw. The prominent role played by second-order law in general and the equitable function in particular is what makes fiduciary law special among areas of private law. This chapter first identifies problems addressed by second-order law, and shows how the fiduciary relationships are equitably second order, especially for trustees, other categorical fiduciaries, and fact-specific fiduciaries. It then considers the duty of loyalty as a second-order duty equitably regulating the performance of primary duties and how fiduciary remedies for breach of fiduciary duty (for example, disgorgement) are equitably second order in a way that many prototypically private law remedies are not. Finally, it examines constructive trusts as a second-order aspect of fiduciary remedies and fiduciary law’s relation to contract law.
This chapter explores the connection between fiduciary relationships and moral norms or standards. It first considers the distinctions between employee “loyalty,” obligations of good faith, and the duty to act in the principal’s best interests. It then examines the two moral norms covered by the fiduciary’s duty of loyalty: the “bad faith breach” norm and the “necessary fiduciary norm.” The “bad faith breach” norm prohibits the fiduciary from taking advantage of his or her position by breaching, in bad faith, a duty owed to his or her principal. This norm applies to others who are not fiduciaries, such as employees and parents. The chapter explains how the “bad faith breach” norm relates to “breach of trust” or breach of faith and how the necessary fiduciary norm is associated with the norm of natural justice, which prohibits bias in decision-making. Finally, it reviews a test case that illustrates what sort of “duty of loyalty” arises in familial relationships.
This chapter introduces the idea of a plural legal category, namely, a legal category that is deeply heterogeneous and, nonetheless, legally meaningful. More specifically, it proposes structural pluralism as an alternative to the prevailing assumption of structural monism. It argues that a wholesale category should not be a category for deciding; pigeonholing a case within its ambit is not enough to justify any concrete decision. At times, however, holding on to such a category can still be useful because some heterogeneous legal categories can function as categories of thinking. Thus, a wholesale legal category is theoretically important if its subcategories raise questions that invoke similar normative concerns or imply some similarity in the means that inform their pertinent answers. This chapter offers an account of plural legal categories and demonstrates its promise regarding fiduciary law, which it analyzes as a classic example of a plural legal category. It also discusses autonomy-based pluralism in fiduciary law and shows how, despite the significant differences between various fiduciary types, their structural similarities could facilitate learning and cross-fertilization and thereby justify holding such diverse categories as money managers, parents, and sovereigns under the unified umbrella of fiduciary law. Furthermore, since many fiduciary types enhance autonomy, the pertinent subsets of fiduciary law dealing with the facilitation of various forms of money management and division of labor can and should be critically examined against this important function of liberal law.
This chapter examines the relationship between fiduciary law and social norms—norms that guide conduct with reference to social expectations as opposed to universal morality, for example. It first considers a number of questions about the relation of law and social norms in general; for instance, whether law’s coercion suppresses or interrupts social norms that might flourish in its absence, or under what circumstances should law enable and bolster social norms and why. It then discusses the ways in which fiduciary law interacts with three types of social norms: norms of trust and trustworthiness, norms of loyalty, and norms of altruism. In particular, it explores those aspects of fiduciary law that suggest a balance between trust and detachment, along with fiduciary law’s link to contract law. Finally, it describes how social roles, such as the role of trustee or company director, interact with both social norms and fiduciary law.
Hillary A. Sale
This chapter uses corporate law as a case study to evaluate the content of the fiduciary duty of good faith. Tracing its development from Van Gorkom through to the present, the chapter shows how good faith, though part of the duty of loyalty, has become a gap filler, policing the space between generally exculpated breaches of care and the more obvious breaches of loyalty. This chapter also surveys good faith case law to show the most common “red flags” for which corporate officers and directors should be monitoring. An analysis of two of the most recent good faith cases—City of Birmingham and In re Wells Fargo—show how the theory of publicness can be used to predict future good faith developments. Finally, the chapter ends by showing that the duty of good faith’s expansion into trust law parallels its corporate development by emphasizing its gap-filler function.
Daniel B. Kelly
This chapter examines how courts apply fiduciary principles when a fiduciary relationship is based on the particular facts of a case. In a fact-based fiduciary relationship, a court must analyze the facts and circumstances of a case to determine if a party is a fiduciary. To determine whether a fact-based fiduciary relationship exists, litigants and courts have invoked a wide range of criteria. In this regard, a number of questions arise. For example, what criteria do courts utilize in evaluating fact-based fiduciaries? Given that most fiduciary relationships are based on status, why are both fact-based and status-based fiduciaries recognized by law? Is the substantive law that applies to fact-based fiduciaries equivalent or analogous to the law that applies to status-based fiduciaries. This chapter begins with a discussion of the triggers for fact-based fiduciary relationships, giving emphasis on factors that courts take into account in making ad hoc fiduciary determinations as well as the relationship between fact-based and status-based fiduciary relationships. It also explains why courts may recognize fact-based fiduciaries in certain limited circumstances before analyzing the fiduciary duties within fact-based fiduciary relationships, including the duties of loyalty and care along with other legal obligations such as confidentiality, good faith, and disclosure. After exploring the issue of mandatory and default rules in fact-based fiduciary relationships, including whether parties can waive or modify fiduciary principles, the chapter concludes by addressing remedies in fact-based fiduciary relationships.
Richard W. Painter
This chapter examines the fiduciary duties of lawyers, and especially how such duties shape—and are shaped by—their other professional responsibilities. It begins with a discussion of the legal basis of lawyers’ fiduciary duties as well as the circumstances that trigger a lawyer-client fiduciary relationship. It then considers the lawyers’ fiduciary duty of loyalty, focusing on the duty to avoid conflicts of interest, the duty of confidentiality owed by a lawyer to a client, the duty of candor, and the duty to communicate to the client information that the latter needs to make informed decisions about the subject matter of the representation. It also explores the lawyer’s fiduciary duty of care, including the duty to familiarize himself with the client’s affairs and to safeguard confidential information; the relationship between fiduciary duties and other duties of professional responsibility; cases where lawyers are subject to the specific duties of a common law trustee; and two types of mandatory rules to which lawyers, as professional fiduciaries, are subject and that cannot be waived with client consent: mandatory rules of professional responsibility and generally applicable laws. The chapter concludes with an analysis of remedies available when a lawyer commits a breach of fiduciary duty, along with the unique challenges faced by lawyers when they also become trustees for their clients or third persons.
Robert H. Sitkoff
This chapter canvasses the fiduciary principles applicable to a trustee of a donative, irrevocable private trust. The focus is on American law. The chapter examines: (1) the trigger for finding a trust fiduciary relationship and the scope of that relationship; (2) the duty of loyalty; (3) the duty of prudence across the distribution, investment, custodial, and administrative functions of trusteeship; (4) other fiduciary duties in trust law, including the prominent duty of impartiality and the increasingly salient duty to give information to the beneficiaries; (5) the extent to which fiduciary principles in trust law are mandatory or may be waived by the settlor or by a beneficiary; and (6) the remedies available for a breach of duty by a trustee.
Samuel L. Bray
This chapter offers an overview and analysis of fiduciary remedies. The remedies considered are accounting for profits, constructive trust, equitable compensation, injunction, the unwinding remedies (e.g., rescission), and the supervisory remedies (e.g., instruction, removal). One point of emphasis is the close relationship between fiduciary duties and fiduciary remedies. The chapter also distinguishes the remedies of fiduciary law from those of agency. In addition, the chapter considers three major unsettled questions. First, are the remedial aims of fiduciary law distinct from tort and contract? Second, how should judges and scholars think about fiduciary remedies in light of the distinction between law and equity? Third, is punishment of an erring fiduciary a legitimate aim for fiduciary remedies?
Paul B. Miller
This chapter provides synthetic analysis of the law on fiduciary relationships, focusing on the identification of fiduciary relationships and fiduciary relationship formation and termination. The chapter analyzes the significance of fiduciary relationships to fiduciary liability. It discusses status- and fact-based methods of identifying fiduciary relationships, as well as analogical and definitional variants on these methods. The chapter concludes by highlighting the increasing convergence on powers-based definitions of the fiduciary relationship, and by explaining the merits of definitional reasoning in judicial identification of fiduciary relationships.
This chapter discusses the nature and operation of mandatory and default rules in fiduciary law, arguing that loyalty is a core element of every fiduciary legal institution. Loyalty is the hallmark of fiduciary law, as it requires persons in other-regarding positions of power to perform functions selflessly, rather than selfishly. However, there are many circumstances in which a person undertakes and exercises other-regarding powers, underscoring the fact that a broad range of persons may be the subject of fiduciary law. This chapter first provides an overview of key concepts and context, focusing on the distinction between mandatory rules and default rules as well as sources of such rules in fiduciary law. It then considers fiduciary loyalty, citing examples that illustrate how a baseline of fiduciary accountability is implied by the essential nature of fiduciary legal institutions, along with the mandatory or default quality of the duties of care and good faith. The main thesis of this chapter is that loyalty is a basic constituent element of all fiduciary legal institutions. Whether fiduciary principles are mandatory involves a consideration and determination of whether the relationship or institution is inherently fiduciary as matter of law and legal classification. It also highlights the modern trend toward codification and clear legislative demarcation of mandatory and default rules in fiduciary law.
Paul B. Miller
This chapter charts new frontiers of scholarly inquiry in fiduciary law. The chapter first orients the reader by taking stock of the current state of play in fiduciary scholarship. It then identifies a range of important questions that should inspire future work in the field. More specifically, it identifies pressing questions of legal theory (conceptual and normative analysis), economic and empirical legal studies (including classical and behavioral economic analysis), and historical and sociological inquiry. The chapter also raises questions of interest to private law theorists and scholars interested in exploring the significance of fiduciary principles within various subfields, from trust and corporate law to health law and legal ethics.
This chapter considers new frontiers in public fiduciary law, frontiers that it argues are vast and open because public fiduciary theory, within the domain of public law, is an interpretive theory of everything. It also describes public fiduciary theory as a relatively ecumenical theory of everything that has drawn the attention of theorists with differing normative views. After explaining why public fiduciary theory is an interpretive, ecumenical theory of everything, the chapter examines five new frontiers with rich potential for development from a fiduciary perspective: various fields of national, international, and transnational public law; the relationship between fiduciary states and democracy; future generations; alternative and critical theoretical approaches to public fiduciary law; and jurisprudential inquiry into the nature of law. The theoretical approaches are compared with those used by Stephen Galoob, Ethan Leib, Evan Criddle, and Evan Fox-Decent. One such theoretical framework deals with public authority, developed by John Locke and his followers; roughly, the “Lockean tradition.”
Robert H. Sitkoff
This chapter canvasses the fiduciary duties other than the primary duties of loyalty and care. The core claim is that these other, subsidiary duties are field-specific elaborations of the primary duties of loyalty and care that implement those duties as applied to commonly recurring circumstances within the particular type or kind of fiduciary relationship. Together, the primary duties of loyalty and care, structured as open-ended standards, and the subsidiary duties, structured as rules or at least more specific standards, provide for fiduciary governance by a mix of rules, specific standards, and open-ended standards that mitigates the weaknesses of governance entirely by rules or standards alone. Fiduciary law thus improves on the familiar trope of rules versus standards as competing governance strategies. The increased specification provided by the subsidiary duties simplifies application of fiduciary obligation to cases that fall within their terms. But because the primary duties of loyalty and care remain operative, the specification for recurring matters provided by the subsidiary duties does not provide a roadmap for strategic avoidance behavior. If a fiduciary acts in a manner that is inimical to the principal’s interests and not addressed by a subsidiary duty, the principal may still invoke the open-ended primary duties of loyalty and care in challenging the fiduciary’s actions.
This chapter examines the philosophy of fiduciary law. It first considers fiduciary law in relation to contract law, examining the claim that fiduciary law is no more than an application of contract law. The discussion turns to the question of loyalty as a possible value that may ground fiduciary obligations, to the no conflicts and no profits rules in fiduciary law, and to whether fiduciary obligations or fiduciary relationships should be viewed as the basic unit of fiduciary law. It concludes with the suggestion that the truly distinctive contribution of fiduciary law comes not in any distinctive principle or value it expresses but in the distinctive technique it provides, one which can be applied across a range of contexts and in support of a range of principles and values.