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The practice of instituting groundless judicial proceedings - a crime in a number of jurisdictions.

In old law French barat, baraterie, signifying robbery, deceit, fraud. In modern usage it may be defined as the habitual moving, exciting and maintaining suits and quarrels, either at law or otherwise.

A man cannot be indicted as a common barrator in respect of any number of false and groundless actions brought in his own right, nor for a single act in right of another; for that would not make him a common barrator.

Barratry, in this sense, is different from maintenance and champerty.

An attorney cannot be indicted for this crime merely for maintaining another in a groundless action.


One who has been guilty of the offence of barratry. BARRATRY - Maritime Law, Crimes. A fraudulent act of the master or mariners, committed contrary to their duty as such, to the prejudice of the owners of the ship.

The act of Congress of April 30, 1790, s.8, punishes with death as piracy, 'any captain or mariner of any ship or other vessel who shall piratically and feloniously run away with such ship or vessel, or any goods or merchandize to the value of fifty dollars; or yield up such ship or vessel to any pirate or if any such seamen shall lay violent hands upon his commander, thereby to binder or prevent his fighting in defence of his ship or goods committed to his trust, or shall make a revolt in the said ship.'