Tuesday, 8 October 2019

champerty & maintenance

A recent edition of NPR’s Planet Money explored the injection of third-party investors in the courtroom and how in asymmetrical civil cases, backing in the form of extra funds might allow a disadvantaged plaintiff to pursue justice on more equal footing.
While in most jurisdictions, lawyers are allowed take cases on commission, outsiders with no standing are not permitted to meddle monetarily—a doctrine that dates back to medieval Europe meant to discourage frivolous and vexatious litigation by excluding disinterested parties. Whereas maintenance refers to the encouragement to get litigious, champerty (from the Old French champart for the feudal lord’s share of the harvest) is by extension the return on investment one would receive from backing the discovery and trial. Nobles often squabbled at the margins of their holdings and lent their support to rather baseless lawsuits to torment one other when open warfare was inadvisable. Relief and remedy was sought on the basis of detinue sur trover. What do you think? Is the concept outdated? Despite how at first glance, it seems rather antithetical to justice, as the legal system is presently configured, there are a lot of barriers to entry and an uneven field for most to negotiate. Do give the entire podcast a listen and consider subscribing. In jurisprudence, the term though not the concept and practice has been mostly superseded by laws on abusing the legal system and malicious prosecution.