A Fiduciaries Duty Of Trust and Loyalty

Fiduciaries duty is a persons in a position of trust, ranging from doctors, lawyers, accountants, to financial advisors and many others in between.

“Wilson J. offered some guidance on the subject of fiduciary relationships in the leading case of Frame v. Smith, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 99 (S.C.C.). At p. 136, she stated:

Relationships in which a fiduciary obligation have been imposed seem to possess three general characteristics:

  1. The fiduciary has scope for the exercise of some discretion or power.
  2. The fiduciary can unilaterally exercise that power or discretion so as to affect the beneficiary’s legal or practical interests.
  3. The beneficiary is peculiarly vulnerable to or at the mercy of the fiduciary holding the discretion or power”


  • The Supreme Court of Canada considered the concept of loyalty in fiduciary relationships in Hodgkinson v. Simms, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 377 (S.C.C.). At p. 407, Sopinka and McLachlin JJ., writing for the dissent, adopted the language from Keech v. Sandford (1726), 25 E.R. 223 (Eng. Ch. Div.):

At the heart of the fiduciary relationship lie the dual concepts of trust and loyalty. This is first and best illustrated by the fact that the fiduciary duties find their origin in the classic trust where one person, the fiduciary, holds property on behalf of another, the beneficiary. In order to protect the interests of the beneficiary, the express trustee is held to a stringent standard; the trustee is under a duty to act in a completely selfless manner for the sole benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries (Keech v. Sandford (1726), 25 E.R. 223) to whom he owes “the utmost duty of loyalty”. (Waters, Law of Trusts in Canada (2nd ed. 1984), at p. 31). And while the fiduciary relationship is no longer confined to the classic trustee-beneficiary relationship, the underlying requirements of complete trust and utmost loyalty have never varied.

109     In Moffat v. Wetstein (1996), 29 O.R. (3d) 371 (Ont. Gen. Div.), Granger J. canvassed the
duty to avoid conflicts of interest. At p. 390, he stated:

Subsumed in the fiduciary’s duties of good faith and loyalty is the duty to avoid a conflict of
interest. The fiduciary must not only avoid a direct conflict of interest but must also avoid
the appearance of a possible or potential conflict.

The fiduciary is barred from dividing loyalties between competing interests, including self-interest.

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