DEFINITION of 'Barratry'

An illegal act whereby an attorney instigates a dispute or otherwise encourages the filing of a lawsuit, in order to profit from legal fees. Barratry typically involves the filing of a groundless claim in order to receive payment from clients. It is an illegal practice in all U.S. states and subject to criminal punishment and discipline by the state bar. An attorney found guilty of barratry would generally face disbarment.


Barratry refers to an attorney's illegal instigation of lawsuits with no legitimate claim. For barratry to be a criminal act, the accused must perform repeated and persistent acts of litigation. It is against the law for an attorney to look for accident victims in hospitals or at home in an attempt to solicit business. Such "ambulance chasers" could be found guilty of barratry.

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