The Fiduciary Nature of State Legal Authority

52 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2008 Last revised: 22 Nov 2015

See all articles by Evan Fox-Decent

Evan Fox-Decent

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 1, 2008


The fundamental interaction that triggers a fiduciary obligation is the exercise by one party of discretionary power of an administrative nature over another party's interests, where the latter party is unable, as a matter of fact or law, to exercise the fiduciary's power. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that there is something "deeply fiduciary" about the interaction between a state and its subjects. The fiduciary nature of this relationship provides the justification for the state's legal authority to announce and enforce law, and explains the state's obligation to act in the interests of its subjects by ruling in accordance with the rule of law. Whereas consent theories of the state founder because so many people do not in fact consent to state authority, the fiduciary theory flourishes precisely because fiduciary law governs nonconsensual relations, including the state-subject relationship. With this underlying constitutional relationship in place, consent can operate through democratic channels to regulate the content of ordinary legislation.

Keywords: rule of law, fiduciary law, authority, law, legal authority, political authority, fiduciary, legal obligation, political obligation, trust, fiduciary relationships, fiduciary relations

Suggested Citation

Fox-Decent, Evan, The Fiduciary Nature of State Legal Authority (February 1, 2008). Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 31, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Evan Fox-Decent (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec


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