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Account, Action on


A civil lawsuit maintained under thecommon lawto recover money owed on an account.

The action on account was one of the ancient forms of action. Dating back to the thirteenth century, it offered a remedy for the breach of obligations owed by fiduciaries. Originally, the action allowed lords to recover money wrongfully withheld by the bailiffs of their manors, whom they appointed to collect fines and rents. Later, statutes extended the right so that lawsuits could be brought against persons who were required to act primarily for someone else's benefit, such as guardians and partners. Eventually, the action withered away because its procedure was too cumbersome, and fiduciaries came under the jurisdiction of the special court of the king, called the Chancery.

An action on account is different from a modern-day accounting, which is a settling of accounts or a determination of transactions affecting two parties, often when one party asks a court to order the other party to account.

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