Action of Account – violation of fiduciary relation or to recover certain fixed sum of money for business contract breach

action of account:
n. (14c.)

1. A legal action to compel a defendant to account for & pay over money owed to the plaintiff but held by the defendant (often the plaintiff’s agent); ACCOUNTING FOR PROFITS. <the principal filed an action for account against his agent>.— aka account render; account; accounting. — Also spelled (archaically) accompt. [1]

    Excerpt from Benjamin J. Shipman’s Handbook of Common-Law Pleading (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed., 3d ed. 1923):

     “The action of account lies where one has received goods or money for another in a fiduciary capacity, to ascertain & recover the balance due. It can only be maintained where there is such a relationship between the parties, as to raise an obligation to account, & where the amount due is uncertain & unliquidated.[2]

2. More broadly, an action for the recovery of money for services performed, properly sold & delivered, money loaned, or damages for the nonperformance of simple contracts. Such an action is available when the rights of parties will be adequately protected by the payment of money. <the contractor filed an action for account against the nonpaying customer>— aka action on account; account; action of book debt.

3. A statement by which someone seeks to describe or explain an event <Fred’s account o the holdup differed significantly from Martha’s>

4. A detailed statement of the debits & credits between parties to a contract or to a fiduciary relationship; a reckoning of monetary dealings <the trustee balanced the account at the end of each month>. In wills and estates, an account is a brief financial statement of the manner in which an executor or administrator has performed the official duties of collecting the estate’s assets & paying those who are entitled.  An account charges the executor or administrator with the value of the estate as shown by the inventory, plus any increase, & credits the executor with expenses & costs, duly authorized disbursements, and the executor’s commission. — Abbr. Acct.; a/c. — aka accounting. See STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT.

5. A course of business dealings or other relations for which records must be kept <open a brokerage account>.


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[1] Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Benjamin J. Shipman, Handbook of Common-Law Pleading § 56, at 144 (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed., 3d ed. 1923)

To be Added:

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931


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