The Wolf at the Campfire: Understanding Confidential Relationships

56 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2016 Last revised: 28 Apr 2018

See all articles by Roy Anderson

Roy Anderson

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law

Date Written: 2000


This article attempts to sharpen perspective on the concept of "confidential relationship" as a basis for extending equity jurisdiction. The concept is not new. The courts in this country began over a hundred years ago to hold that equitable remedies, and the attendant concepts of uberrima fides, full disclosure, and the avoidance of conflict of interest, apply not only to formal fiduciary relationships, such as trustee-beneficiary, attorney-client, doctor-patient and the like, but also to a wide variety of others, which the courts labeled "confidential relationships." The development of the doctrine defining this concept and its boundaries has been largely uniform among the jurisdictions. However,the doctrine has typically been so broadly stated that it carries very little substantive content. If the words of the courts are to be taken literally, a confidential relationship giving rise to fiduciary obligation may include any business, social, or purely personal relationship in which one party justifiably places trust and confidence in another to care for his or her welfare and interests. But the breadth of these statements is seriously misleading if unaccompanied by a guiding context.

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Roy, The Wolf at the Campfire: Understanding Confidential Relationships (2000). SMU Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 1, 2000, SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 216, Available at SSRN:

Roy Anderson (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

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