Is a fiduciary relationship between parties determined by relationship rather than status or occupation?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from Petersen v. Proline Management Ltd., 2007 BCSC 790 (CanLII):

Whether fiduciary obligations arise between parties is determined by the relationship between them rather than the status or occupation of the one against whom fiduciary obligations are alleged: see Hodgkinson v. Simms, 1994 CanLII 70 (SCC), [1994] 3 S.C.R. 377.

In circumstances such as are present here, where the alleged fiduciary duties do not spring from a relationship of the kind normally giving rise to such obligations, the nature of the relationship is often evaluated against these three general characteristics set out by Wilson J. in Frame v. Smith, 1987 CanLII 74 (SCC), [1987] 2 S.C.R. 99, at 136: (1) The fiduciary has scope for the exercise of some discretion or power. (2) The fiduciary can unilaterally exercise that power or discretion so as to affect the beneficiary's legal or practical interests. (3) The beneficiary is peculiarly vulnerable to or at the mercy of the fiduciary holding the discretion or power.

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