Breach means to break, and a breach of trust is essentially a broken trust, a way in which someone fails to fulfill promises connected to something or someone entrusted to him/her. In the business sense you’ll see this term sometimes associated specifically with the administration of trusts. For instance the trustee of an estate could spend all the money in it, or merely fail to do his/her job. Breach of trust may also be used in other business contexts, not merely administration of trust funds, to show how a person deliberately or through neglect failed to act in the terms specified in agreements; an accountant who embezzles funds breaks trust with his clients.
There are many examples of the way in which a broken trust may occur, but they all have things in common. The breach of trust violates the terms of the agreement between the parties involved. Second, the person who breaks the trust has been entrusted with something: administering funds, investing someone else’s money, supervising employees, taking care of a child, giving medical care, teaching, taking care of an animal, or acting as a pastor for a community.
In order to get through life, most of us must trust, at some point, some aspect of our lives to others. Even a manager/employee relationship is one of certain types of trust, governed by employment and anti-discrimination laws. When you give someone else some authority or power in your life, they have a certain amount of control over you, which when not honored is a breach of trust.
Breaking trust isn’t always intentional. Sometimes the person in authority violates the trust of someone else simply by failing to do his or her job well or accurately. Other times, actions are intentional breaches and an abuse of the person’s position of trust.
In the legal setting, this phrase may be used to describe business relationships where one party failed to fulfill or intentionally broke terms of a contract. In other settings, trust can be violated in numerous ways, mostly when a person in power abuses his/her position. You could look at the following as breaches of trust in day-to-day settings:
- A doctor/therapist/pastor has a sexual liaison with a patient/parishioner.
- A teacher or parent verbally, physically or sexually abuses a child.
- A parent or foster-parent fails to provide basic care to a child entrusted to them.
- A manager sexually harasses employees or breaks laws governing workplace behavior.
- An employer fails to provide state mandated rights to workers.
- A babysitter neglects her charge also racks up hundreds of dollars of long-distance phone calls.
- You pet sitter doesn’t walk your dog as specified.
- Someone taking care of your house in your absence doesn’t water your plants.
The breach of trust can be very huge, or quite small. Your housesitter might not water your plants, which is a tiny breach. If your housesitter takes all your bills, steals your credit card numbers and takes off with your furniture, this is a huge breach of trust.
Despite these breaches, we are dependent upon others and must place trust in them from time to time. Whether you’re entrusting your bank account or your dry cleaning to someone else, just remember that the majority of people plan to fulfill their agreements with you. Evaluate businesses, schools, babysitters, and bosses by getting information and references from others so you can place trust in others more easily, but wisely.