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Velasco, Julian, Delimiting Fiduciary Status (June 29, 2016). Research Handbook On Fiduciary Law (D. Gordon Smith & Andrew S. Gold, eds.) (Elgar Publishing).


A familiar problem to scholars of fiduciary law is that of definition. Fiduciary law has been called “messy,” “elusive,” and “unusually vexing.” In part, this is because fiduciary law principles appear in many areas of law, but are applied differently in each. This has made the development of a unified theory difficult. Some scholars have doubted whether it is even possible; others have insisted that it is not possible. Nevertheless, scholars continue to try to bring order to the perceived chaos. My goal in this short paper will be to sketch out the contours of a reasonably coherent theory that covers enough phenomena to have a plausible claim to descriptive accuracy while also providing objective criteria for the exclusion of marginal cases. While a simple definition would be nice, some complexity may be necessary in order to achieve this goal.

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