The False Claims Act History is a long one. Qui tam laws date back to the Middle Ages in England. Nearly 700 years ago, King Edward II came up with a one third reward to individuals (relators) if the relator successfully sued government officials who were moonlighting as wine merchants.
Two hundred years later, Henry VII followed suit. The Maintenance and Embracery Act 1540 allowed individuals (common informers) to sue for certain interference with justice in land title related legal proceedings. Ireland still has this act in force today.
So, how does this relate to America?
During the American Civil War (1861 – 1865), all kinds of fraud was going on such as:
- Contractors selling decrepit mules and horses in ill health to the Union Army
- Some contractors selling rancid provisions and rations to the Union Army
- Contractors selling faulty rifles and ammunition to the Union Army
Because of this and other acts, Congress passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863. At times, the False Claims Act is called the “Lincoln Law”. This is because President Abraham Lincoln was in office at the time.
Under the False Claims Act, the qui tam provision offered a reward permitting citizens to sue on behalf of the government. As such, said “whistleblowers” can receive a percentage of the recovery. U.S. Senator Jacob M. Howard sponsored this legislation. He knew some of the whistle blowers were a part of the unethical activities themselves. However, he said “I have based the [qui tam provision] upon the old-fashioned idea of holding out a temptation, and ‘setting a rogue to catch a rogue,’ which is the safest and most expeditious way I have ever discovered of bringing rogues to justice.”
Over the Years
The False Claims Act has primarily been used against defense contractors. However, health care fraud began to receive more focus in the 1990s. By 2008, health care fraud accounted for 40% of recoveries.
In 2009, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (FERA) passed into law. Among other things, this Act increased the protection of qui tam relators.
There were multiple major changes to the FCA because of this Act.
President Barak Obama’s signature put the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into place in 2010.
By 2014, thirty states and the Disctrict of Columbia now have False Claims statutes. These are in place to protect publicly funded programs from fraud.
Knowing the False Claims Act History can help your case. For hundreds of years, individuals have been able to file claims on behalf of the government. The laws are for people like you who know of others committing fraud against the government or against individual states.
If you do know of fraud, contact a whistleblower attorney as soon as possible.