chancery practice. When a bill is filed to open an account stated, liberty is sometimes given to the plaintiff to surcharge and falsify such account. That is, to examine not only errors of fact, but errors of law.
"These terms, 'surcharge,' and 'falsify,'" says Mr. Justice Story, "have a distinct sense in the vocabulary of courts of equity, a little removed from that, which they bear in the ordinary language of common life. In the language of common life, we understand `surcharge' to import an overcharge in quantity, or price, or degree, beyond what is just and reasonable. In this sense, it is nearly equivalent to 'falsify;' for every item, which is not truly charged, as it should be, is false; and by establishing such overcharge it is falsified. But, in the sense of courts of equity, these words are used in contradistinction to each other. A surcharge is appropriately applied to the balance of the whole account; and supposes credits to be omitted, which ought to be allowed. A falsification applies to some item in the debets; and supposes, that the item is wholly false, or in some part erroneous. This distinction is taken notice of by Lord Hardwicke; and the words used by him are so clear, that they supersede all necessity for farther commentary. 'Upon a liberty to the plaintiff to surcharge, and falsify,' says he, 'the onus probandi is always on the party having that liberty; for the court takes it as a stated account, and establishes it. But, if any of the parties can show an omission, for which credit ought to be, that is, a surcharge, or if anything is inserted, that is a wrong charge, he is at liberty to show it, aud that is a falsification. But that must be by proof on his side. And that makes a great difference between the general cases of an open account, and were only [leave] to surcharge and falsify; for such must be made out."
This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library