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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: The Law of Fiduciary Duties (LAWS10162)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryFiduciary duties arise in legal relations where one party (the fiduciary) undertakes to act in the interests of another (the beneficiary) and acquires decision-making authority over the other's interests. In such relations, the fiduciary undertakes a duty to exercise his/her best judgment over the beneficiary's interests. Due to the existence of this core duty, the law imposes a set of very strict proscriptive duties, requiring a fiduciary to avoid or manage situations of conflict of interest.

Established fiduciary positions include trustees, guardians, executors, agents, corporate directors or partners. The family of fiduciary relations has increased steadily throughout the past century, often in an unprincipled way. The label 'fiduciary relationship' has been applied loosely to relationships marked by 'trust and confidence', often as an instrumental shortcut to far-reaching legal remedies.

In this course students will analyse the content and justification of fiduciary duties in private law relations, with a focus on English and Scottish law. Students will acquire an in-depth understanding of the specific duties to which a fiduciary is subject and of the remedies for breach of such duties. The course will allow students to acquire an integrated and coherent understanding of the regulation of fiduciary duties across various legal areas, such as trust law, company law or agency law.
Course description The covered topics include:

General theory of fiduciary duties:
- historical origins of fiduciary duties
- when do fiduciary duties arise?
- the content of fiduciary duties
- breach of fiduciary duties: overview of personal and proprietary remedies

Specific areas:
- fiduciary duties in company law
- fiduciary duties of investment intermediaries
- fiduciary duties in banking law
- fiduciary duties in family law

Specific topics may vary from year to year.

The course will be taught in 10 two-hour seminars. Each seminar will be a combination of teacher-led and student-led activities. The student-led activities include group discussion. Students will be divided in groups of three students and asked to discuss a topic among members, followed by a class discussion of group findings.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Business Entities (LAWS08134) AND Succession and Trust Law (LAWS08130)) OR ( Business Entities (LAWS08099) AND Trusts and Succession Ordinary (LAWS08089))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Students must have passed Business Entities (LAWS08134) AND Succession and Trust (LAWS08130) or equivalent courses at their home institution.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the categories of legal relations where fiduciary duties could arise.
  2. Critically analyse the main theories regarding the content and justification of fiduciary duties and of their remedies.
  3. Compare and contrast the fiduciary duties imposed in various areas of law.
  4. Critically analyse primary and secondary sources and use them to present a logical and well-structured argument.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to work constructively as a member of a group and to express their ideas concisely to their peers.
Reading List
There are no mandatory textbooks for this course. The resources below are recommended.

Monographs on fiduciary duties and powers:
- Andrew Gold and Paul Miller, eds., Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law (Oxford: OUP, 2014)
- Matthew Conaglen, Fiduciary Loyalty: Protecting the Due Performance of Non-Fiduciary Duties (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2010)

Other relevant monographs:

Historical Aspects:
- Frederic W. Maitland, Equity: Also the Forms of Action at Common Law: Two Courses of Lectures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1909)
- James Dalrymple, Viscount of Stair, The Institutions of the Law of Scotland (Edinburgh: University Press of Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1981)

Contemporary Equity and Trusts:
- John McGhee et al., eds, Snell's Equity 32nd ed. (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2010)
- Sarah Worthington, Equity, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)
- Thomas Smith and Robert Black eds. Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, vol. 24 (Edinburgh: Butterworths, 1989)

General Private Law Theory:
- Ernest J. Weinrib, The Idea of Private Law (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1995)
- Elise Bant and Matthew Harding., eds., Exploring Private Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
- A Burrows and Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, eds, Mapping the Law: Essays in Honour of Peter Birks (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Ethics and Professions:
- Michael Davis and Andrew Stark, eds. Conflict of Interest in the Professions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)
- George Brenkert and Tom Beauchamp, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

Research Reports:
- The Law Commission, Fiduciary Duties of Investment Intermediaries (2013-2014)
- The Scottish Law Commission, Report on Trust Law (2014)
- The Scottish Law Commission, Discussion Paper on Breach of Trust (2003)
- The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, Trustees' Powers and Duties (1999)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students will:
1) Develop their ability to work independently under fixed deadlines, seeking relevant advice and support when necessary.
2) Develop their ability to work constructively as a member of a group or team, assert leadership or follow instructions.
3) Participate effectively in seminars, workshops and discussions.
4) Develop their capacity of reflecting on the outcomes of individual research efforts with a view to identifying strengths and weaknesses and furthering their own learning.
KeywordsFiduciary Duties; Power; Discretion; Vulnerability; Conflict of Interest; Unauthorised Profits; Acco
Course organiserDr Remus Valsan
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
Course secretaryMr Ryan McGuire
Tel: (0131 6)50 2386
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