January 19, 2019
Qui Tam – What Is It? And Where Did It Originate?
Qui Tam is a federal statute that permits private individuals a monetary remedy for successfully bringing suits alleging frauds committed upon the federal government. Without qui tam actions, many reports of wrongdoing against the government would otherwise go unnoticed. The economic incentives provided by qui tam actions promote private enforcement of federal legislation.
What does Qui Tam mean?
Qui Tam is short for Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hoc parte sequitur which means he who sues for the king as well as for himself. It is a provision under the False Claims Act which allows for a private individual (or “relator”) with knowledge of past or present fraud committed against the U.S. government to a bring a suit on its behalf. If the suit proves to be successful, the relator takes a share of the recovered proceeds as a reward for “blowing the whistle” on the fraudulent conduct.
Qui Tam was created in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed into law what is called “Lincoln’s Law” on March 2, 1863. This law was to combat fraud from both military personal and civilian contractors against the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Qui Tam cases were only being pursued against government contractors who committed against the U.S. Army. After the war ended and the opportunities to commit fraud declined, very few Qui Tam cases were filed.
Today the act applies to fraud committed by all governmental contractors.