Andrew’s research interests are primarily in the areas of trusts, restitution and fiduciary law. Increasingly, Andrew draws upon concepts, theories and experimental research in psychology to understand and offer solutions to legal problems. His current research on ‘Human Nature, Fiduciary Law and Fiduciary Regulation’seeks to evaluate orthodox fiduciary law and theory by utilizing concepts and ideas from cognitive psychology, social psychology and personality psychology (normal rather than abnormal). The research seeks to address three questions.
First, are assumptions about human behavior which underpin orthodox accounts of the nature and function of fiduciary doctrine persuasive or useful? The orthodox account of fiduciary doctrine posits that the purpose of the strict obligation of loyalty is to regulate fiduciary opportunism. Yet a rapidly developing body of psychological research on individuals with dark personality traits – the very types of individual who are most prone to opportunism – suggests such individuals do not respond to the legal and extra-legal incentives in the ways that fiduciary doctrine presumes. This suggests a certain undermining of the orthodox position.
Second, does fiduciary law have an important role to play in regulating ‘light’ fiduciaries – those with a tendency to exhibit more pro-social, self-transcendent attitudes and dispositions?. The hypothesis is that many aspects of fiduciary law are more coherent and intelligible when considered from the ‘light fiduciary’ perspective rather than from a ‘dark fiduciary’ perspective. This research draws further on the developing body of psychology research on dark and light personality types and behavioral ethics.
Third, if human nature is much more complex than is often assumed and fiduciaries are likely to exhibit a complex range and mix of character traits we can expect fiduciaries to respond to different regulatory approaches and to different situations in different ways. Can fiduciary law respond to this challenge by developing a more nuanced, multi-faceted approach to fiduciary regulation and what would such an approach look like?
Andrew is keen to hear from prospective research students who wish to pursue doctoral research in any of the following areas.
Fiduciary law, particularly the nature and theory of fiduciary obligation and the regulation of fiduciaries; the law of trusts, particularly breach of trust and proprietary claims; and behavioral law and economics / behavioral ethics / cognitive and social psychological approaches to law.