Monday, 25 March 2013

Barratry

Barratry, Vexatious Litigation, Harassment
The Griffon Vulture represents ... oh it doesn't need an explanation, does it?

BARRATRY

Noun. LME.
[Old & mod. French baraterie deceit, from Old French barat(e) deceit, fraud, trouble, etc., from barater)

1 Hist. The purchase or sale of ecclesiastical or state preferments or of judicial influence. LME.

2 The malicious incitement of discord; spec. (now Hist.) the persistent practice of vexatious litigation. L16.

3 Maritime Law. Fraud or gross or criminal negligence prejudicial to a ship's owner(s) or underwriters on the part of the master or crew. E17.

We are fortunate in Western lands to have legals systems that, while flawed, purport to represent the best interests of citizens in a fair and just manner according to law. However, a particularly invidious aspect of their use is barratry, which (as per definition 2) is the practice of vexatious litigation.

This can take a number of forms. One is exemplified by so-called ambulance chasers; lawyers who descend on accidents or disasters in order to find clients. In fact, there are specific laws in many countries to prevent this; some jurisdictions have even gone as far as dispatching investigators to disaster zones to monitor and intercept any such attempted barratry.

Another aspect of barratry is the filing of litigation solely to harass. This might be to silence a dissenter or critic, to financially cripple an opponent through spiralling legal costs or simply to harass through wasted time, money and effort in defending the vexatious proceedings. Both forms not only persecute the respondent to such claims, but also place an unnecessary burden on the often already overstretched court systems. Bah!

4 comments:

  1. I saw one of those adverts saying how much you can claim if you've had an accident and I was so surprised I fell over. Thinking of pursuing them.

    - Clueless in Seattle

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    1. I laughed so hard at this that I perforated my coccyx; expect a letter, Clueless.

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  2. I've been watching Breaking Bad for the past two weeks and your description of barratry reminded me of Saul Goodman, the lawyer. There's a video that illustrates it perfectly but it contains spoilers (in case you haven't watched the series), so I'll give you the link to his fictional tv commercial.

    http://youtu.be/wqnHtGgVAUE

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    1. Ha! Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about : o )

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