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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

Q:
How can I determine whether someone is a fiduciary under New York contract law?

A:
In order to determine whether someone owes you a fiduciary duty, it is essential that you contact a New York business litigation attorney for guidance.

While the law does not always list exact classifications as to who is or is not a fiduciary for purposes of New York breach of fiduciary duty claims, a general principle can be applied to make this determination. In order for a fiduciary relationship to exist, the relationship between the parties must call for more trust than generally exists between two strangers. This need for trust results in the law imposing special obligations on the person or entity being trusted. Each determination will be based upon the individual facts and circumstances surrounding the relationship. 

By way of guidance, examples of roles where a New York fiduciary duty may exist include:
  • Business partners
  • Officers of corporations
  • Majority shareholders of corporations
  • Employers 
  • Real estate brokers
  • Attorneys
  • Creditors
  • Franchiser
  • Trustee
  • Manager of a pension fund
  • Stock broker
Each of these roles calls for a higher level of trust between the parties to the relationship.

Further, even if the contract or agreement between the parties states that the relationship is that of independent contractor, a breach of fiduciary duty claim may still prevail. It is the facts and circumstances surrounding the relationship that determine a fiduciary duty, not the language contained in a contract.

For more information about fiduciary duties and relationships, contact a New York breach of fiduciary duty attorney at (888) 497-3410 for a consultation.