tam is an abbreviation from the Latin "qui
tam pro domino rege quam pro sic ipso in hoc
parte sequitur" meaning "he who as
well for the king as for himself sues in this
tam is the technical legal term for the
mechanism in the federal False Claims Act that
allows persons and entities with evidence of
fraud against federal programs or contracts to
sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the Government. A
qui tam action is one brought under the False
Claims Act by a private plaintiff on behalf of
the Federal Government (rather than by the
Government itself). The Government has the right
to intervene and join the action, or the
Government may decline intervention, in which
case the private plaintiff may proceed on his
own. The qui tam provisions in the False
Claims Act include strong incentives both to
report fraud against the Government and to
participate in the resulting litigation.
tam enforcement dates back to the Middle
Ages, and was a common mechanism for protecting
the public fisc in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence.
America's first Continental Congress borrowed
from this tradition and passed several qui tam
Federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§
3729-3733sometimes referred to as "the
whistleblower law"was originally
enacted in 1863 at the urging of President
Abraham Lincoln, whose Union army was being
routed by the rebels despite the rebels' inferior
size and materials. At the time, many suppliers
were defrauding the Union by, for example,
selling it army crates filled with sawdust
instead of muskets, and selling it the same
cavalry horses two and three times. The
Government needed an incentive for private
individuals to help combat fraud, and thus the
False Claims Act was born.
nearly a century of successful fraud suppression,
the qui tam provisions were amended in
1943, in such a way as to eliminate much of the
incentive for private individuals to bring suit.
Indeed, the amendments abolished the guaranteed
50% share of the proceeds that the whistleblower
was awarded under the 1863 act, and added
procedural hurdles which prevented many cases
from going forward. As a result, fraud against
the Government proliferated.
1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law new
amendments to the False Claims Act which restored
the effectiveness of the Act. These amendments
rejuvenated the Act, and have helped return
billions of dollars to the treasury since 1986.
In addition, a strong False Claims Act
undoubtedly deters much fraud before it occurs.
the Act, successful relators are entitled to at
least 15% and up to 30% of the funds they help
recover for the Government. In addition,
whistleblowers are protected from retaliation for
activity relating to the qui tam action.
Generally, in order for the most common FCA suit
to be successful, a relator must prove by the
preponderance of the evidence (more likely than
not) that the defendant knowingly submitted a
false claim for payment or approval to the