This is Part 3 by whistleblower lawyer blog of a detailed explanation of the major qui tam whistleblower statutes, the federal False Claims Act and the new state False Claims Acts. It is taken from a recently published article by whistleblower lawyer blog author Michael A. Sullivan, and is reprinted with the permisssion of the Georgia Bar Journal.
The Part 3 explains the history of the False Claims Act and why effective qui tam whistleblower laws are important.
II. Background of the False Claims Act
Although the False Claims Act may be the best known qui tam statute, it is far from being the first. Qui tam actions date back to English law in the 13th and 14th Centuries. This tradition took root in the American colonies and, by 1789, states and the new federal government had authorized qui tam actions in various contexts. 
According to one writer:
In the early years of the Nation, the qui tam mechanism served a need at a time when federal and state governments were fairly small and unable to devote significant resources to law enforcement. As the role of the Government expanded, the utility of private assistance in law enforcement did not diminish. If anything, changes in the role and size of Government created a greater role for this method of law enforcement. 
Birth of the False Claims Act: The Civil War prompted Congress to enact the original False Claims Act in 1863. As government spending on war materials increased, dishonest government contractors took advantage of opportunities to defraud the United States government. “Through haste, carelessness, or criminal collusion, the state and federal officers accepted almost every offer and paid almost any price for the commodities, regardless of character, quality, or quantity.” 
One senator explained how the qui tam provisions of the Act were intended to work:
The effect of the [qui tam provisions] is simply to hold out to a confederate a strong temptation to betray his co-conspirator, and bring him to justice. The bill offers, in short, a reward to the informer who comes into court and betrays his co-conspirator, if he be such; but it is not confined to that class. . . . In short, sir, 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. 
The original Act provided for double damages, plus a $2,000 forfeiture for each claim submitted.  If a private citizen or “relator” used the qui tam provision to file suit, the government had no right to intervene or control the litigation. A successful “relator” was entitled to one-half of the government’s recovery. 
The Act survived in substantially its original form until World War II.  In a classic and oft-quoted 1885 passage, one court rejected the argument that courts should limit the statute’s reach on the grounds that qui tam actions were poor public policy:
The statute is a remedial one. It is intended to protect the treasury against the hungry and unscrupulous host that encompasses it on every side, and should be construed accordingly. It was passed upon the theory, based on experience as old as modern civilization, that one of the least expensive and most effective means of preventing frauds on the treasury is to make the perpetrators of them liable to actions by private persons acting, if you please, under the strong stimulus of personal ill will or the hope of gain. Prosecutions conducted by such means compare with the ordinary methods as the enterprising privateer does to the slow-going public vessel. 
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