At a fundamental level, a fiduciary relationship is where one party is legally obliged to act in the best interests of another party. This type of relationship can take on many forms. However, one common example is the responsibility of a lawyer to act in the best interest of his or her client.
The legal responsibilities of fiduciaries are also commonly referred to as fiduciary duties. Fiduciary duties may be breached where one party fails to act in the best interest of the other. In such circumstances, there may be legal remedies available.
The fiduciary relationship between lawyers and clients
The fiduciary relationship between lawyers and clients is deemed to be particularly sacred. Furthermore, the responsibilities of a lawyer are generally enforced by a written contract or enshrined in statutes.
When a client enrolls the assistance of a lawyer, it is typically because they have an issue which they are unable to navigate on their own. Consequently, clients rely on lawyers to take on much of the burden in terms of expertise and also with regards to the levels of stress involved in a legal case.
As a result, lawyers have specific responsibilities that they are expected to adhere to. For example, it is the duty of a lawyer to know the law and apply it appropriately. Additionally, lawyers are expected to explain any risks as well as obtain consent. Furthermore, a duty of adequately investigating the case as well as safeguarding documents is owed to the client.
A lawyer who fails to uphold any of these conditions may be in breach of their fiduciary duties. This can have devastating and potentially life-altering consequences for a client. Importantly, in such instances, it may be possible for the client to pursue a claim for legal malpractice.
As a client, it is important to know that your lawyer owes you a certain level of care. If you feel that your representation has been flawed, then there may be legal options available to you to pursue an award for damages.