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The Fiduciary Nature of State Legal Authority

Evan Fox-Decent

McGill University - Faculty of Law

February 1, 2008

Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 31, 2005

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

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

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Date posted: February 6, 2008 ; Last revised: November 22, 2015

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1090292

Contact Information

Evan Fox-Decent (Contact Author)
McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )
3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
HOME PAGE: http://https://www.mcgill.ca/law/about/profs/fox-decent-evan
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