Fiduciary 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.

    The nature of the obligation determines the nature of the breach. The various obligations of a fiduciary merely reflect different aspects of his core duties of loyalty and fidelity. Breach of fiduciary obligation, therefore, connotes disloyalty or infidelity. Mere incompetence is not enough. A servant who loyally does his incompetent best for his master is not unfaithful and is not guilty of a breach of fiduciary duty.

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

    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. Breach of the rule automatically constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty. But this is not something of which the Society can complain.

    Conduct which is in breach of this duty need not be dishonest but it must be intentional. An unconscious omission which happens to benefit one principal at the expense of the other does not constitute a breach of fiduciary duty, though it may constitute a breach of the duty of skill and care.

  • HM Revenue and Customs v Holland; Re Paycheck Services 3 Ltd
    • Supreme Court
    • 24 Nov 2010

    In Fayers Legal Services Ltd v Day, ( unreported) 11 April 2001, a case relating to breach of fiduciary duty, Patten J, rejecting a claim that the defendant was a de facto director of the company and had been in breach of fiduciary duty, said that in order to make him liable for misfeasance as a de facto director the person must be part of the corporate governing structure, and the claimants had to prove that he assumed a role in the company sufficient to impose on him a fiduciary duty to the company and to make him responsible for the misuse of its assets.

  • White and Another v Jones and Another
    • House of Lords
    • 16 Feb 1995

    Although the categories of cases in which such special relationship can be held to exist are not closed, as yet only two categories have been identified, viz. (1) where there is a fiduciary relationship and (2) where the defendant has voluntarily answered a question or tenders skilled advice or services in circumstances where he knows or ought to know that an identified plaintiff will rely on his answers or advice.

  • Regal (Hastings) Ltd v Gulliver
    • House of Lords
    • 20 Feb 1942

    The rule of equity which insists on those who by use of a fiduciary position make a profit, being liable to account for that profit, in no way depends on fraud, or absence of bona fides; or upon such questions or considerations as whether the profit would or should otherwise have gone to the Plaintiff, or whether the profiteer was under a duty to obtain the source of the profit for the Plaintiff, or whether he took a risk, or acted as he did for the benefit of the Plaintiff, or whether the Plaintiff has in fact been damaged or benefited by his action.

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