Barratry

Barratry is the name of two legal concepts, one in criminal and civil law, and one in admiralty law.

Criminal and civil law

Barratry, in criminal and civil law, is the act or practice of bringing repeated legal actions solely to harass. Usually, the actions brought lack merit. This action has been declared a crime in some jurisdictions. For example, in the U.S. states of California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, barratry is a misdemeanor, ["People v. Sanford", 202 Cal. App. Supp. 1 (App. Dept. Sup. Ct 1988); 18 Pa.C.S. 5109. [http://online.ceb.com/calcases/CA3/202CA3dS1.htm] ] while in Texas, it is a felony. [Texas Penal Code section 38.12] In England and Wales the offence was abolished in 1967.

Barratry also refers to the act of soliciting legal business from potential clients based on a particular event not just solely to harass. For example, an attorney who stops at the scene of a car accident or follows an ambulance to an emergency room in hopes of finding and soliciting business from an injured and aggrieved person might be accused of barratry. The lawyer who practices this sort of barratry is called, pejoratively, an "ambulance chaser".

Admiralty law

In admiralty law, barratry is an act of gross misconduct committed by a master or crew of a vessel which damages the vessel or its cargo. These activities may include desertion, illegal scuttling, theft of the ship or cargo, and/or committing any actions which may not be in the shipowner's best interests by the master or crew.

Other

Barratry, when used elsewhere, may refer to the buying and selling of positions (which are expected to bring greater income in time) within civil authority. This venality is the secular counterpart of simony, which is the buying and selling of positions (notably benefices) within the church.

In his Inferno, Canto XXI, Dante places barrators in the Eighth Circle, fifth pit of Hell.

References

*California Penal Code Section 158: "Common barratry is the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months and by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000)."
*California Penal Code Section 159: "No person can be convicted of common barratry except upon proof that he has excited suits or proceedings at law in at least three instances, and with a corrupt or malicious intent to vex and annoy."

See also

*Abuse of process
*Champerty
*Forum shopping
*Malicious prosecution
*SLAPP
*Vexatious litigation
*Legal advertising


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • barratry — bar·ra·try / bar ə trē/ n pl tries [Middle French baraterie deception, from barater to deceive, cheat] 1: an unlawful act or fraudulent breach of duty by a ship s master or crew that injures the interests of the ship s or cargo s owners often… …   Law dictionary

  • Barratry — Bar ra*try, n. [Cf. F. baraterie, LL. barataria. See {Barrator}, and cf. {Bartery}.] 1. (Law) The practice of exciting and encouraging lawsuits and quarrels. [Also spelt {barretry}.] Coke. Blackstone. [1913 Webster] 2. (Mar. Law) A fraudulent… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • barratry — early 15c., sale of ecclesiastical or state offices, from O.Fr. baraterie deceit, guile, trickery, from barat malpractice, fraud, deceit, trickery, of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic. In marine law, wrongful conduct by a ship s crew or… …   Etymology dictionary

  • barratry — [bar′ətrē, ber′ətrē] n. [Fr baraterie, orig., misuse of office < barater: see BARRATOR] 1. Obs. the buying or selling of ecclesiastical or civil positions 2. the criminal offense of habitually bringing about quarrels or lawsuits 3. Maritime… …   English World dictionary

  • Barratry — 1. The act of a vessel’s captain or crew knowingly endangering the vessel’s crew, cargo and/or the vessel itself. Acts that are considered barratry include intentionally sinking the ship, transporting illegal immigrants, stealing… …   Investment dictionary

  • barratry — Any act committed wilfully by the master or crew of a ship to the detriment of its owner or charterer. Examples include scuttling the ship and embezzling the cargo. Illegal activities (e. g. carrying prohibited persons) leading to the forfeiture… …   Big dictionary of business and management

  • barratry —   n. unlawful action by captain or seamen injuring owner or freighter of ship; inciting to litigation or riot; simony.    ♦ barrator, n. person habitually entering into quarrels and law suits.    ♦ barratous,    ♦ barratrous, a. quarrelsome;… …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • barratry — /baeratriy/ barratry or barretry The offense of frequently exciting and stirring up quarrels and suits, either at law or otherwise. State v. Batson, 220 N.C. 411, 17 S.E.2d 511, 512, 513. In maritime law, an act committed by master or mariners of …   Black's law dictionary

  • barratry — /baeratriy/ barratry or barretry The offense of frequently exciting and stirring up quarrels and suits, either at law or otherwise. State v. Batson, 220 N.C. 411, 17 S.E.2d 511, 512, 513. In maritime law, an act committed by master or mariners of …   Black's law dictionary

  • barratry — noun (plural tries) Etymology: Middle English (Scots) barratrie, from Anglo French *baraterie, literally, deception, from Old French barater to be active, do business, cause strife, deceive, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *prattare, from Greek… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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