Breach of Duty in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Bristol and West Building Society v Mothew
    • Court of Appeal
    • 24 Jul 1996

    A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for or on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence. A fiduciary must act in good faith; he must not make a profit out of his trust; he must not place himself in a position where his duty and his interest may conflict; he may not act for his own benefit or the benefit of a third person without the informed consent of his principal.

    A fiduciary who acts for two principals with potentially conflicting interests without the informed consent of both is in breach of the obligation of undivided loyalty; he puts himself in a position where his duty to one principal may conflict with his duty to the other: see Clark Boyce v Mouat [1994] 1 AC 428 and the cases there cited. This is sometimes described as "the double employment rule". Breach of the rule automatically constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty.

  • M'Alister or Donoghue (Pauper) v Stevenson
    • House of Lords
    • 26 May 1932

    You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. The answer seems to be persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.

  • Bonnington Castings Ltd v Wardlaw
    • House of Lords
    • 01 Mar 1956

    In my judgment, the employee must in all cases prove his case by the ordinary standard of proof in civil actions: he must make it appear at least that on a balance of probabilities the breach of duty caused or materially contributed to his injury.

    What is a material contribution must be a question of degree. A contribution which comes within the exception de minimis non curat lex is not material, but I think that any contribution which does not fall within that exception must be material. I do not see how there can be something too large to come within the de minimis principle but yet too small to be material.

  • McGhee v National Coal Board
    • House of Lords
    • 15 Nov 1972

    And if one asks which of the parties, the workman or the employers should suffer from this inherent evidential difficulty, the answer as a matter in policy or justice should be that it is the creator of the risk who, ex hypothesi must be taken to have foreseen the possibility of damage, who should bear its consequences.

  • Hedley Byrne & Company Ltd v Heller & Partners Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 28 May 1963

    Furthermore, if in a sphere in which a person is so placed that others could reasonably rely upon his judgment or his skill or upon his ability to make careful inquiry, a person takes it upon himself to give information or advice to, or allows his information or advice to be passed on to, another person who, as he knows or should know, will place reliance upon it, then a duty of care will arise.

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Books & Journal Articles
  • The Continuing Value of Relief for Directors' Breach of Duty
    • Núm. 66-2, Marzo 2003
    • The Modern Law Review
    The nature and scope of relief for directors in breach of their duties did not figure prominently in the Steering Group's fundamental review of company law. Little is proposed beyond removing one o...
  • Neglect of Duty and Breach of Trust. Ancient offences in the modern battle against impunity in the public service
    • Núm. 13-4, Octubre 2010
    • Journal of Money Laundering Control
    • 336-350
    Purpose: The paper seeks to contend that first, the current law treating Neglect of Duty and Breach of Trust as a single offence is incorrect; and second, that the offences can be an important tool...
  • Remedies for Breach of Trust
    • Núm. 78-4, Julio 2015
    • The Modern Law Review
    The decision of the Supreme Court in AIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler & Co confirms the approach taken by Lord Browne‐Wilkinson in Target Holdings Ltd v Redferns: where a trustee misapplies tru...
  • Preventing corporate scandals
    • Núm. 11-3, Julio 2004
    • Journal of Financial Crime
    • 268-276
    Defines fraud as deliberate deception to obtain illicit material gain, and includes embezzlement and asset misappropriation in the definition. Assesses what constitutes auditors’ breach of duty to ...
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Law Firm Commentaries
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