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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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Working Paper

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Boston University School of Law




The law that defines and regulates fiduciary relationships appears in many legal areas, such as family law, surrogate decision-making, international law, agency law, employment law, pension law, remedies rules, banking law, financial institutions' regulation, corporate law, charities law not for profit organizations law, and the law concerning medical services.

Fiduciary relationships, and the concepts on which they are grounded, appear not only in the law. They appear in other areas of knowledge: economics, psychology; moral norms and pluralism. Fiduciary law has a very long history. It was recognized in Roman law and the British common law and appeared decades ago in religious laws, such as Jewish law, Christian law, and Islamic law. Internationally, fiduciary law has a place in European legal system in Chinese law, Japanese law and Indian law.

This article offers an explanation to the evolution and expansion of fiduciary principles and a prediction of their future. Part One opens with a short description of fiduciary relationships, and the conditions under which they arise. Part Two describes the evolution of specialization of living being–from genetic to chosen cooperative specialization. Part Three notes the positive and negative social impact of fiduciary relations and the response of the law designed to encourage the relationships while discouraging the abuse they might lead to. Part four of the article highlights the criticism of fiduciary law and alternative solutions to the issues raised by fiduciary relationships. Part Five offers a prediction about the future of fiduciary law.

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