Vanderbilt Law Review


Carl S. Hawkins

First Page



At least since 1905, in this country, accountants have been recognized as "a skilled professional class ... subject generally to the same rules of liability for negligence in the practice of their profession as are members of other skilled professions."' The question, then, is not whether the usual concepts of professional negligence apply to accountants, but how. What situations have produced malpractice litigation? What are the specific practices or omissions which have resulted in liability? And what are the limits of liability? Like other professionals, the accountant usually gets into the position where he must exercise his professional skill as the result of a contract. The contract says what he undertakes to do, but the law says he must do it with reasonable care, by professional standards. If he fails, he may be liable either for breach of his contract or, in tort, for breach of the general duty to exercise due care, arising out of the contract relationship.