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Fiduciary Duties and Lawyers in Alberta

Lawyers owe fiduciary duties to their clients. So what exactly are they?

In the case of Hodgkinson v. Simms [1994] 3SCR377 the Supreme Court of Canada defined fiduciary duties as follows:

.... In the famous case of Lloyds Bank Ltd. v. Bundy, [1975] Q.B. 326, Sir Eric Sachs of the English Court of Appeal stated the fiduciary principles as follows, at p. 341:

Such cases tend to arise where someone relies on the guidance or advice of another, where the other is aware of that reliance and where the person upon whom reliance is placed obtains, or may well obtain, a benefit from the transaction or has some other interest in it being concluded. In addition, there must, of course, be shown to exist a vital element which in this judgment will for convenience be referred to as confidentiality. It is this element which is so impossible to define and which is a matter for the judgment of the court on the facts of any particular case.

Speaking specifically of advisors the Court said:

The frequency with which courts have enforced fiduciary duties in professional advisory relationships is not surprising. The very existence of many professional advisory relationships, particularly in specialized areas such as law, taxation and investments, is premised upon full disclosure by the client of vital personal and financial information that inevitably results in a "power-dependency" dynamic.

Whether or not a lawyer owes a specific duty or has breached it is a question of fact, to be determined in the context. If you wish to discuss this or other matters please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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