What should you know about breach of fiduciary duty?

New York, NY has businesses of all sizes, from small startups to billion-dollar goliaths of commerce. Some are flourishing, and some are failing. All of them, at some point, will find themselves at odds with individuals and other companies they work with.

At those times, the businesses involved may want to consult with an attorney about pursuing commercial litigation. One of the circumstances in which it is good to explore your legal options is when you feel that someone has engaged in a breach of fiduciary duty.

What is a fiduciary duty?

A fiduciary duty is an obligation of one party to act, to the best of their ability, in another party's best interests.

What is a breach of fiduciary duty?

If the first party acts contrary to the best interests of the second party, within the context of their business relationship, they have committed a breach of fiduciary duty.

What kind of business relationships can this happen to?

That can happen between attorneys and their clients, principals and agents and trustees and beneficiaries, as well as many other fiduciary relationships. In each case, one party has a clear legal duty to the other.

How are fiduciary relationships established?

They have to have been created in accordance with the law, in the form of statutes, legal proceedings or legally binding contracts.

How is a breach of fiduciary duty legally established?

First, it must be determined that a fiduciary relationship existed between the parties. Second, the details of the relationship and the specific duties that the fiduciary was responsible for need to be confirmed. Third, it has to be proven that those duties were in fact breached.

It also needs to be proven that the breach caused the plaintiff in the case to suffer damages. Without damages, the breach is not actionable. With damages, both actual damages and punitive damages can be pursued, with the latter being dependent upon successfully proving that the breach involved malice or fraud.

Source: FindLaw, "Breach of Fiduciary Duty," accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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