Definition - What does Qui Tam mean?
Qui tam is a Latin term often translated as "who as well." In U.S. law, it is used to describe the type of lawsuit brought under the federal False Claims Act. In this sort of litigation, the plaintiff is an ordinary person who initiates the suit on the federal government's behalf. The ability to do so is based on their knowledge of fraudulent activity perpetrated against the government by the other party. In such cases, the government must share any financial reparations stemming from favorable rulings with the person who brought the suit.
Justipedia explains Qui Tam
Under the federal False Claims Act, a citizen who initiates a qui tam action must have firsthand or personal knowledge of the fraudulent activity alleged in the suit. Knowledge gleaned from secondary sources, such as media accounts, is not an acceptable basis for a qui tam lawsuit.
Furthermore, an ordinary person who wants to initiate a qui tam suit must hire a lawyer. This is due to not only the complexity of these types of cases, but also because the person is bringing the suit on the government's behalf.
Although most qui tam cases are initiated under federal law, there are also similar state laws. These statutes have varying stipulations regarding the circumstances in which someone can bring a case on the government's behalf. In general, however, private citizens can do so when they have reason to believe that the other party is committing fraud involving a state healthcare program, or state or local agencies.