You work as a solicitor in a leading law firm called Port Lawyers. A Senior Partner of the firm, Simon Benston, has assigned you a case file (PL/2020/05/08) and has requested an opinion on the matter from you. Please draft your opinion in the form of an internal memorandum of advice addressed to the Senior Partner, Simon Benston.
The facts within case file PL/2020/05/08 are as follows:
Jane Wright (JW) worked as a clerk in a law firm founded by her uncle, Robert Wright (RW). RW was therefore the founding and senior partner of the law firm, which was a partnership of three lawyers, who were friends from their university days.
JW was a diligent employee who always went the extra mile. She was also very fond of her uncle, RW, who had been of great help to her family in their times of financial need during her childhood.
In her quest to see the law firm succeed, JW made unsolicited cash advances over the years in the form of bank deposits into the firm’s bank account. RW was not aware that JW was doing this.
JW became the firm’s office manager after ten years. By this time, JW had made financial contributions totalling about $300,000 into the firm’s bank account. As office manager, JW became aware of the liabilities mounting on the firm, in particular, a large negligence suit against RW.
RW was declared a bankrupt as a result of losing the negligence suit against him, and committed suicide.After RW’s death, the remaining partners of the firm engaged in unethical practices involving client’s monies, and as office manager, JW became aware of this.
Our client, JW, now wishes to sue the two remainingpartners of the firm, Tom Simple (TS) and Peter Knot (PK), on grounds of breach of fiduciary duty, as she considers herself a de facto partner of the firm, and is hopeful of recovering the monies she had contributed to the firm.
Please advise: 1) whether it is likely that there is afiduciary relationship between JW and the two remaining partners of the firm. 2) If so, has there been a breach of fiduciary duty or duties, and what possible remedies would JW be able to pursue?