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Can someone other than a trustee be liable for a breach of trust?


If you help a trustee breach their fiduciary duties, you can be independently liable for the wrong even though you are not a trustee. You also don’t have to have personally benefitted from the breach and your assistance can be minimal.

This is called dishonest assistance.

Dishonest assistance can also arise when you have been ‘willfully blind’ to the breach of trust. This means that you had a sufficiently strong suspicion that your actions would be creating a breach of trust, and you failed to make enquiries to check.*

This is a particularly dangerous form of liability because it can be stumbled into accidentally.

*Westpac v MAP [2011] NZSC 89

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