Account

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Account

A written list of transactions, noting money owed and money paid; a detailed statement of mutual demands arising out of a contract or a fiduciary relationship.

An account can simply list payments, losses, sales, debits, credits, and other monetary transactions, or it may go further and show a balance or the results of comparing opposite transactions, like purchases and sales. Businesspersons keep accounts; attorneys may keep escrow accounts; and executors must keep accounts that record transactions in administering an estate.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

ACCOUNT, remedies. This is the name of a writ or action more properly called account render.
     2. It is applicable to the, case of an unliquidated demand, against a person who is chargeable as bailiff or receiver. The use of it, is where the plaintiff wants an account and cannot give evidence of his right without it. 5 Taunt. 431 It is necessary where the receipt was directed to a merchandising which makes all uncertainty of the net remain, till the account is finished; or where a man is charged as bailiff, whereupon the certainty of his receipt appears not till account. Hob. 209.; See also 8 Cowen, R. 304; 9 Conn. R. 556; 2 Day, R. 28; Kirby, 164; 3 Gill & John. 388; 3 Verm. 485; 4 Watts, 420; 8 Cowen, 220. It is also the proper remedy by one partner against another. 15 S. & R. 153 3 Binn. 317; 10 S. & R. 220; 2 Conn. 425; 4 Verm. 137; 1 Dall. 340; 2 Watts 86.
     3. The interlocutory judgment in this action is (quod computet) that the defendant render an account upon which judgment auditors are assigned to him to hear and report his account. (See I Lutwych, 47; 3 Leon. 149, for precedents) As the principal object of the action is to compel a settlement of the account in the first instance, special bail cannot be demanded, (2 Roll. Rep. 53; 2 Keble, 404,) nor are damages awarded upon the first judgment, nor given except ratione interplacitationis, (Cro. Eliz. 83; 5 Binn. 664; 24 Ed. 3. 16; 18 Ed. 3. 55; Reg. Brev. 136 b,) although it is usual to conclude the count with a demand of damages. (Lib. Int. fo. 16. fo. 20; 1 Lutw. 51. 58; 2 H. 7. 13.) The reason assigned for this rule, is, that it may be the defendant will not be found in arrears after he has accounted, and the court cannot know until the settlement of the account whether the plaintiff has been endamaged or not. 7 H. 6. 38.
     4. This action combines the properties of a legal and equitable action. The proceedings up to the judgment quod computet, and subsequent to the account reported by the auditors are conducted upon the principles of the common law. But the account is to be adjusted upon the most liberal principles of equity and, good faith. (Per Herle, Ch. J. 3 Ed. 3. 10.) The court it is said are judges of the action - the auditors of the account, Bro. Ab. Ace. 48, and both are judges of record, 4 H. 6. 17; Stat. West. 2. c. 11. This action has received extension in Pennsylvania. 1 Dall. 339, 340.
     5. The fist judgment (quod computet) is enforced by a capias ad computandum where defendant refuses to appear before the auditors, upon which he may be held to bail, or in default of bail be made to account in prison. The final judgment quod recuperet is enforced by fi. fa. or such other process as the law allows for the recovery of debts.
     6. If the defendant charged as bailiff is found in surplusage, no judgment can be entered thereon to recover the amount so found in his favor against the plaintiff, but as the auditors are judges of record, he may bring an action of debt, or by some authorities a sci. fac. against the plaintiff, whereon he may have judgment and execution against the plaintiff. See Palm. 512; 2 Bulst. 277-8; 1 Leon. 219; 3 Keble Rep. 362; 1 Roll. Ab. 599, pl. 11; Bro. Ab. Acc. 62; 1 Roll. Rep. 87. See Bailiff, in account render.
     7. In those states where they have courts of chancery, this action is nearly superseded by the better remedy which is given by a bill in equity, by which the complainant can elicit a discovery of the acts from the defendant under his oath, instead of relying merely on the evidence he may be able to produce. 9 John. R. 470; 1 Paige, R. 41; 2 Caines' Cas. Err. 38, 62; 1 J. J. Marsh. R. 82; Cooke, R. 420; 1 Yerg. R. 360; 2 John. Ch. R. 424; 10 John. R. 587; 2 Rand. R. 449; 1 Hen. & M9; 2 M'Cord's Ch. R. 469; 2 Leigh's R. 6.
     8. Courts of equity have concurrent jurisdiction in matters of account with courts of law, and sometimes exclusive jurisdiction at least in some respects: For example; if a plaintiff be entitled to an account, a court of equity will restrain the defendant from proceeding in a claim, the correctness of which cannot be ascertained until the account be taken; but not where the subject is a matter of set-off. 1 Sch. & Lef. 309; Eden on Injunct. 23, 24.
     9. When an account has voluntarily been stated between parties, an action of assumpsit may be maintained thereon. 3 Bl. Com. 162; 8 Com. Dig. 7; 1 Com. Dig. 180; 2 Ib. 468; 1 Vin. Ab. 135; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Doct. Pl. 26; Yelv. 202; 1 Supp. to Ves. Jr, 117; 2 Ib. 48, 136. Vide 1 Binn. R. 191; 4 Dall. R. 434; Whart. Dig. h.t. ; 3 Wils. 73, 94; 8 D.& R. 596; Bull. N. P. 128; 5 Taunt. 431; U. S. Dig. h.t.; 2 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 34-39.

ACCOUNT, practice. A statement of the receipts and payments of an executor, administrator, or other trustee, of the estate confided to him.
     2. Every one who administers the affairs of another is required at the end of his administration to render an account of his management of the same. Trustees of every description can, in general, be compelled by courts of chancery to settle accounts, or otherwise fully execute their trusts. Where there are no courts of chancery, the courts of common law are usually invested with power for the same purposes by acts of legislation. When a party has had the property of another as his agent, he may be compelled at common law to account by an action of account render.
     3. An account is also the statement of two merchants or others who have dealt together, showing the debits and credits between them.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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