Lawyers are also subject to court prosecution if they are found to have committed acts of barratry. Such acts include encouraging clients to pursue lawsuits of no real claim or to encourage disputes to be settled in a court trial. Barratry is a violation of common law, and in some cases a violation of state statutes.
Barratry is essentially the practice of law for the personal and willful gain of the lawyer rather than the protection of laws and rights. It can also refer to a party’s unrelenting and repeated filing of suit. Lawyers who practice barratry have a tendency to file nuisance lawsuits, which are suits that lack any legal merit or claim.
A slang subcategory for barratry is referred to as “ambulance chasing”. This is in reference to lawyers who seek out clients who have been endangered and encourage such individuals to file lawsuits. Most of these lawyers are called personal injury lawyers, a derogatory term. The law bars soliciting clients in this manner, and lawyers who are found to be guilty of barratry often are disbarred and can never practice law again.
Barratry can be considered as a civil or criminal offense, depending on the nature of the litigation that is consistently being pursued by the accused party.
Maritime law also states that barratry is committed when a commanding officer of a ship or vessel knowingly endangers the lives of his or her crew, the ship or vessel itself, or the cargo carried. In either definitions of barratry, intentional harm is done rather than as a result of negligence.