ACCOUNT - Black's Law Dictionary

What is ACCOUNT? Definition of ACCOUNT in Black's Law Dictionary

A detailed statement of the mutual demands in the nature of debt and credit between parties, arising out of contracts or some fiduciary relation. Portsmouth v. Donaldson, 32 Pa. 202, 72 Am.Dec. 782.

A statement in writing, of debts and credits, or of receipts and payments; a list of items of debts and credits, with their respective dates. Rensselaer Glass Factory v. Reid, 5 Cow., N.Y., 593.

An "account" is defined as a statement of pecuniary transactions; a record or course of business dealings between parties ; a list or statement of monetary transactions, such as payments, losses, sales, debits, credits, etc., in most cases showing a balance or result of comparison between items of an opposite nature; and is not held to include a liability for unliquidated damages resulting from the breach of an entire contract, expressing only an entire consideration. Harnischfeger Sales Corporation v. Pickering Lumber Co., C.C.A.Mo., 97 F.2d 692, 695.

The word is sometimes used to denote the balance, or the right of action for the balance, appearing due upon a statement of dealings ; as where one speaks of an assignment of accounts ; but there is a broad distinction between an account and the mere balance of an account, resembling the distinction in logic between the premises of an argument and the conclusions drawn therefrom. A balance is but the conclusion or result of the debit and credit sides of an account. It implies mutual dealings, and the existence of debt and credit, without which there could be no balance. McWilliams v. Allan, 45 Mo. 574.

A generic term, difficult to define, having various meanings, depending somewhat upon the surrounding circumstances and the  connection  in  which  it  is  used.  Wolcott & Lincoln v. Butler, 155 Kan. 105, 122 P.2d 720, 722, 141 A. L. R. 356.

Flexible in meaning, meaning valuation; worth; value. Ex parte Means, 200 Ala. 378, 76 So. 294; may refer either to past or future indebtedness, Semel v. Braun, 157 N.Y.

  1. 907, 908, 94 Misc. 238; an itemized account, Brooks v. International Shoe Co., 132 Ark. 386, 200 S.W. 1027.


An account to which no further additions can be made on either side, but which remains stil. open for adjustment and set-off, which distinguishes it from an account stated. Mandeville v. Wilson, 5 Cranch 15, 3 L.Ed. 23.


An open or running or unsettled account between two parties; the antithesis of an account stated. See Watson v. Gillespie, 200 N.Y.S. 191, 198, 205 App.Div. 613; Caffarelli Bros. v. Lyons Bros. Co., Tex.Civ.App., 199 S.W. 685, 686; Continental Casualty Co. v. Easley, Tex.Civ.App., 290 S.W. 251, 253.

An "account current" is an active checking account, through which credit and debit items are constantly passing. In re Fricke's Will, 202 N.Y.S. 906, 912, 122 Misc. 427.

All items must constitute one demand. Meyers v. , Barrett & Zimmerman, 196 Minn. 276, 264 N.W. 769, 773.


Duties payable by the English customs and inland revenue act, 1881, (44 Vict. c. 12, § 38,) on a donatio mortis causa, or on any gift, the donor of which dies within three months after making it, or on joint property voluntarily so created, and taken by survivorship, or on property taken under a voluntary settlement in which the settlor had a life-interest.


Accounts comprising mutual credits between the parties; or an existing credit on one side which constitutes a ground for credit on the other, or where there is an understanding that mutual debts shall be a satisfaction or set-off pro tanto between the parties. McConnell v. Arkansas Coffin Co., 172 Ark. 87, 287 S.W. 1007.


An account which has not been finally settled or closed, but is still running or open to future adjustment or  liquidation.  Open  account,  in  legal as well as in ordinary language, means an indebtedness subject to future adjustment, and which may be reduced or modified by proof. James v. Lederer-Strauss & Co., 32 Wyo. 377, 233 P. 137, 139.

An open account can become an account stated only by the debtor's admission of liability, or failure to deny liability for a reasonable time after receipt of account. Brooks v. White, 187 N. C. 656, 122 S.E. 561.


"Accounts payable" are contract obligations owing by a person on open account. West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co. v. Karnes, 120 S.E. 321, 322, 137 Va. 714; State Tax Commission v. Shattuck,  38 P.2d 631, sn, 44 Ariz. 379.


The accounts kept by officers of the nation, state, or kingdom, of the receipt and expenditure of the revenues of the government.


An account made out by the creditor, and presented to the debtor for his examination and acceptance. When accepted, it becomes an account stated. Freeland v. Cocke, 17 Va. (3 Munf.) 352.


One in which the balance has been in fact paid, thereby differing from an account stated. See Dempsey v. McGinnis, 219 S.W. 148, 150, 203 Mo. App. 494.


The settlement of an account between the parties, with a balance struck in favor of one of them; an account rendered by the creditor, and by the debtor assented to as correct, either expressly, or by implication of law from the failpre to object. Preston v. La Belle View Corporation, 212 N.W. 286, 288, 192 Wis. 168.

Monthly statements rendered by bank without depositor's objection, Pierce & Garnet v. Live Stock  Nat.  Bank, 213 Iowa 1388, 239 N.W. 580, 583.

Unperformed promise of one party to pay a stated sum. Hammond Lumber Co. v. Richardson Building & Lumber Co., 209 Cal. 82, 285 P. 851, 853.

An agreement between 'parties who have had previous transactions of a monetary character that all the items of the account representing such transactions, and the balance struck, are correct, together with a promise, express or implied, for the payment of such balance. Pelavin v. Fenton, Davis & Boyle, 255 Mich. 680, 239 N.W. 268, 269.

No particular form is necessary; it may be oral, written, partly oral and partly written. Murphy v. Smith, 26 Ariz. 394, 226 P. 206, 208. An account stated is not ordinarily recognized in Virginia and West Virginia, except as between merchant and merchant, and principal and agent, with mutual accounts. Price Hill Colliery Co. v. Pinkney, 96 W.Va. 74, 122 S.E. 434, 436. This was also a common count in a declaration upon a contract under which the plaintiff might prove an absolute acknowledgment by the defendant of a liquidated demand of a fixed amount, which implies a promise to pay on request. It might be joined with any other count for a money demand. The acknowledgment or admission must have been made to the plaintiff or his agent. Wharton.


In practice. "Account," sometimes called "account render," was a form of action at common law against a person who by reason of some fiduciary relation (as guardian, bailiff, receiver, etc.) was bound to render an account to another, but refused to do so. Portsmouth v. Donaldson, 32 Pa. 202, 72 Am.Dec. 782; Peoples Finance & Thrift Co. of Visalia v. Bowman, 137 P.2d 729, 731, .58 Cal.App.2d 729.

"Action of account" is common-law action to compel person to render account for property or money of another. Dahlberg v. Fisse, 328 Mo. 213, 40 S.W.2d 606, 609. Equitable in nature. Gaines Bros. Co. v. Gaines, 188 Okl. 300, 108 P.2d 177, 179.

In England, this action early fell into disuse; and as it is one of the most dilatory and expensive actions known to the law, and the parties are held to the ancient rules of pleading, and no discovery can be obtained, it never was adopted to any great extent in the United States. But in some states this action was employed, chiefly because there were no chancery courts in which a bill for an accounting would lie. The action is peculiar in the fact that two judgments are rendered, a preliminary judgment that the defendant do account with the plaintiff (quod computet) and a final judgment (quod recuperet) after the accounting for the balance found due. Field v. Brown, 146 Ind. 293, 45 N.E. 464, 16 Blatchf. 178.

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