Introduction to the Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law

Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-78471-483-3

BYU Law Research Paper No. 18-15

12 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2018 Last revised: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by D. Gordon Smith

D. Gordon Smith

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Andrew S. Gold

Brooklyn Law School

Date Written: July 1, 2018


Fiduciary law governs myriad relationships, including employment relationships, business organizations, and professional relationships. Fiduciary relationships characteristically have two parties, a fiduciary and a beneficiary, each of which may be an individual, an organization, or a group of individuals or organizations. The fiduciary acts on behalf of the beneficiary. Trustees are fiduciaries for the beneficiaries of the trust. People with managerial power in a business organization – partners, officers, directors, and so forth – are fiduciaries for the owners of the business organization. Professionals like doctors, lawyers, and clergy may be fiduciaries with respect to their patients, clients, and parishioners. Nations can be fiduciaries and so can government officials.

Efforts to unify fiduciary law as a field have paid ample dividends, offering substantial new insights in recent years. At the same time, fiduciary law is a subject that can be viewed from many different angles. There is a reason why some scholars take an atomistic view of fiduciary obligations, or else question whether a single principle can explain fiduciary relationships. Fiduciary relationships show genuine differences from one type to another; loyalty duties vary across settings, both for specific parties and for relationship types (e.g., corporations, trusts, agency relations); and individual jurisdictions each have their own way of conceptualizing what it is to be a fiduciary. Recognizing this should not mean giving up on unity in fiduciary law, but it should encourage a close look at the ways in which the field responds to context.

The chapters in this volume provide this very thing. We are hopeful that the range of ideas introduced in this volume will encourage additional research agendas in fiduciary law. Many of the puzzles addressed by these chapters are starting points for further inquiry, and some of the chapters’ more controversial arguments are sure to draw responses. The healthy debate we now see over fiduciary principles reflects the status of the field more broadly. Fiduciary law has been a fundamental component of the law for a very long time, but in recent years its significance has become increasingly evident. The chapters in this volume help to show why this subject has drawn so many distinctive points of view. Whether our concerns are public law or private law, legal duties or moral duties, fiduciary law continues to pose new and interesting questions that cut across vital legal topics. We anticipate that this volume will answer some of these questions, even as it raises new ones to consider.

Keywords: Fiduciary Law, Fiduciary Relationships, Fiduciary Duties, Fiduciary Remedies, Duty of Loyalty, Duty of Care, Duty of Candor

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K11, K12, K13, K22

Suggested Citation

Smith, D. Gordon and Gold, Andrew S., Introduction to the Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law (July 1, 2018). Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-78471-483-3; BYU Law Research Paper No. 18-15. Available at SSRN:

D. Gordon Smith (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

422 JRCB
Provo, UT 84602
United States
801.422.3233 (Phone)
801.422.0390 (Fax)

Andrew S. Gold

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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