David 2
29 Apr 1991
23 May 1996
03 Feb 2005
B.Com. (Hons), LLM.
Legalbrief sm
Name 1a

Subhead 1a
Screen shot 2013 09 04 at 9.51.47 am

Action for an 'Account'

Jane v Bob Jane Corporation Pty Ltd & Anor [2013] VSC 406 (9 August 2013).

You don’t often see an action for "an account" these days but Justice Sifris of the Victorian Supreme Court has recently handed down a decision that outlines the relevant principles. It’s the case of Jane v Bob Jane Corporation Pty Ltd & Anor [2013] VSC 406 (9 August 2013).

A person is liable to an action for an account when they receive money or property they may have to repay to another person. Here are some of the principles emerging from this case:

  • An account can be “settled” by agreement, in which case the defendant has a defence to the action.
  • But a settled account can still be re-opened, in which case it is subject to the process of “surcharge” and “falsifying” which means having omitted sums included or sums claimed by the accounting party disallowed.
  • An action for an account, although equitable, is still subject to the normal limitation periods.
  • A person who does not dispute an account rendered can be estopped from bringing an action for an account.

To my mind, the curious thing about this case was its failure to mention the leading Australian authority on “account stated” being Bank of New South Wales v Brown [1983] HCA 1, 151 CLR 514 at 536 . You have a true “account stated” and an admitted debt when there is a balance left over from mutual debts which are set-off against each other. That is mutual debits and credits, which is more or less what happened in this case.