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Fiduciaries may be liable for breaches under federal rules

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2015 | Business Litigation, Contract Disputes

Fiduciaries are individuals empowered to act or manage assets on behalf of other parties, and in Kansas and other jurisdictions, their behaviors are governed by explicit laws. Even if a fiduciary does not take an illegal action on their own, they can still be deemed liable for transgressions committed by other fiduciaries with whom they share joint responsibility for assets or properties.

29 U.S. Code § 1105 defines a number of circumstances under which a fiduciary might be accountable for a breach of responsibility. These include situations where fiduciaries knowingly attempt to conceal improper actions or contribute to such actions by not fulfilling their own duties. Additionally, fiduciaries who know about breaches yet fail to address them may be found liable by courts. However, those who play roles in omissions that constitute breaches of fiduciary duty might not be found guilty of crimes unless they participated knowingly.

Fiduciary duty rules also apply to individuals like trustees and investment managers. However, although trustees still have full responsibility for some actions, their liability does not necessarily extend to omissions and breaches committed by investment managers. When assets are managed in accordance with predefined plans, fiduciaries who adhere to the terms of said plans in the course of maintaining assets will not be held liable for breaches of duty unless their own actions enabled such violations.

Companies that rely on fiduciaries and other parties to manage assets, like property, cash and investment funds, may find themselves in a difficult position if their fiduciaries fail to uphold their duties. While the outcomes of certain business risks, like reduced returns on an investment, might not be prosecuted under the law, those who suspect their fiduciaries of intentional breaches may wish to pursue commercial litigation or seek settlements.