Understanding Fiduciary Duties: Conflict of Interest and Proper Exercise of Judgment in Private Law

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This dissertation analyses the content and justification of the notion of fiduciary duties in private law relations. The thesis promotes the following understanding of fiduciary duties: in a legal relation where one party undertakes to act in the interests of another, and acquires decision-making authority over the other’s interests, such party undertakes a core duty to exercise his best judgment in the other’s interests. The core judgment duty requires a fiduciary to exercise judgment based on relevant considerations. While what constitutes a relevant consideration can be determined objectively, the weight to be ascribed to each relevant factor is left at the fiduciary’s subjective appreciation.

Due to the existence of this core duty, the law imposes a set of proscriptive duties. The proscriptive duties require a fiduciary to manage situations of conflict of interest. Their purpose is prophylactic: they aim to prevent self-interest (or another duty to exercise proper judgment) from affecting the reliability of fiduciary’s judgment in a conscious or subconscious way. The proscriptive duties protect the core duty to exercise judgment and, as a result, the beneficiary’s right to a proper exercise of judgment by the fiduciary.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • McGill Univ, McGill University
  • Smith, Lionel, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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