FCA/Whistleblower

3. Whistleblower/False Claims Act Cases are Referred to as Qui Tam Cases

What does “qui tam” mean?

The term “qui tam” comes from the Latin phrase, “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro si ipso in hac parte sequitur.” Translated into English, the phrase roughly means, “he who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself.” A qui tam action is so called because it is brought by a person who sues on behalf of the government. This person is called a “relator.” So, in the legal case documents or court opinions, instead of the case being denominated, for example, Smith v. Jones, it will read, United States of America ex rel. Smith v. Jones, which means that the case is being brought by Smith, but the case against Jones really belongs to the United States.

The first use of qui tam actions was in the colonial period in which the concept was taken from English law. The FCA as we know it was enacted during the Civil War, in 1863, causing it to be informally dubbed “Lincoln’s Law.” Since then, it has been amended in 1943, 1986, 2009, and 2010.