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Barratry (/ˈbærətri/ BARR-ə-tree) is a legal term with several meanings. In common law, barratry is the offense committed by people who are "overly officious in instigating or encouraging prosecution of groundless litigation" or who bring "repeated or persistent acts of litigation" for the purposes of profit or harassment.[1]

Although it remains a crime in some jurisdictions, barratry has frequently been abolished as being anachronistic and obsolete.

If barratrous litigation is deemed to be for the purpose of silencing critics, it is known as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Jurisdictions that otherwise have no barratry laws may have SLAPP laws.

Barratry by country

Australia

In Australia, the term barratry is predominantly used in the first sense of a frivolous or harassing litigant. The concept has fallen into disuse in Australia.[2]

New South Wales

The offence of being a common barrator was abolished in New South Wales by Section 4A of the Maintenance, Champerty and Barratry Abolition Act 1993.

Victoria

The offence of being a common barrator was abolished in Victoria by section 2 of the Abolition of Obsolete Offences Act 1969.

Canada

In Canada, barratry, alongside all common law offences except contempt of court, were abolished by the 1953 consolidation of the Criminal Code.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

The offence of being a common barrator was abolished in New South Wales by Section 4A of the Maintenance, Champerty and Barratry Abolition Act 1993.

Victoria

The offence of being a common barrator was abolished in Victoria by section 2 of the Abolition of Obsolete Offences Act 1969.

Canada

In Canada, barratry, alongside all common law offences except contempt of court, were abolished by the 1953 consolidation of the Criminal Code.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

In England and Wales the common law offence of being a common barrator was abolished by section 13(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Act 1967.

History

Being a common barrator was an offence under the common law of England. It was classified as a Victoria

The offence of bei

The offence of being a common barrator was abolished in Victoria by section 2 of the Abolition of Obsolete Offences Act 1969.

Canada

In

In Canada, barratry, alongside all common law offences except contempt of court, were abolished by the 1953 consolidation of the Criminal Code.

United Kingdom

Being a common barrator was an offence under the common law of England. It was classified as a misdemeanor. It consisted of "persistently stirring up quarrels in the Courts or out of them". It is uncertain whether, in the ordinary way, persons charged wi

Being a common barrator was an offence under the common law of England. It was classified as a misdemeanor. It consisted of "persistently stirring up quarrels in the Courts or out of them". It is uncertain whether, in the ordinary way, persons charged with commission of the offence were dealt with by indictment.[3]

There were two such cases tried at the Old Bailey, one in 1735 and the other in 1741. In both cases, the finding was not guilty.[4]

In 1966, the Old Bailey, one in 1735 and the other in 1741. In both cases, the finding was not guilty.[4]

In 1966, the Law Commission recommended for the offence to be abolished.[5] It said that there had been no indictments for this offence for "many years" and that, as an indictable misdemeanor, it was "wholly obsolete".[3] Its recommendation was implemented by the Criminal Law Act 1967.

In Scots law, barratry referred to the crime committed by a judge who is induced by bribery to pronounce judgment.

United States

References