False Claims Procedure

There are several unique aspects to False Claims procedure. A False Claims Act case must be filed under the seal of the court. The seal provision of the law grants the government 60 days to investigate the allegations filed, and that period can be extended for good cause shown. In practice, the seal period is almost always extended to allow the government to investigate.

If you are interested in filing a claim under the False Claims Act, a distinguished False Claims Act lawyer could help. Discussing a False Claims procedure with an attorney who can be by your side throughout the whole process can give you peace of mind.

Seal Provisions

The False Claims Act’s seal provision, means that the individuals and even the lawyers, cannot discuss the case publicly and cannot comment on whether or not a case has been filed until the government makes a decision as to whether or not it is going to intervene in the case and until the court takes the action of unsealing the case to the public.

Courts Attitude Toward Extending a Seal

Some courts and judges have gotten less willing to extend the seal and have been more aggressive in demanding that the government demonstrate its need to continue an investigation of a case under seal. Some public organizations do not like the seal because it is keeping matters from public view, at least temporarily, and have opposed it. Nonetheless, the seal period has also provided benefits both to Relators and even to defendants. When a Relator files a case in good faith and they could potentially be the subject of retaliation, it can protect them at least for some period of time while the government investigates the claim.

What is a Disclosure?

The initial disclosure provides an opportunity for the Relator to establish their status as an original source of the material and allegations in a complaint. One of the ways that a Relator can overcome the public disclosure bar, which otherwise can disrupt their ability to collect an award, is to claim original source status. To accomplish this, the Relator would provide the government with information regarding the allegations made in the complaint prior to filing the complaint. With this in mind, most people file a disclosure prior to filing a complaint. In addition, the law also requires a disclosure of “substantially” all the evidence a whistleblower has in the case to the government upon filing the complaint.

Everything the whistleblower knows about the allegations should be included in the initial disclosure. There are some issues with respect to privileged material. If the whistleblower was in contact with counsel for the defendants, all parties may be required to put such evidence and information to the side and conduct a review and submit that separately for review by the government. The whistleblowers cannot base their allegations in the complaint as being an original source if they do not provide appropriate information prior to filing the complaint.

Unique Aspects of Filing a False Claims Act Case

The process for filing a False Claims Act case is different than most civil actions, including because it must be filed under seal. Most complaints are a matter of public record from inception and are not filed under seal. Of course, this is a requirement the Relator and an attorney must be careful not to violate. A willful violation of the seal provisions of the False Claims Act can be meant that the Relator would not be able to collect an award.

Statute of Limitations

The False Claims Act has three different statutes of limitations attached to it. The first two apply to the underlying fraud claim. The general provision is a statute of limitations of six years. There is also a “right of repose” which could extend that six years if it applies but not shorten it. That statute of limitations starts when the government had reason to know about the fraud and runs for, three years, but in no event to exceed a total of ten years from when the fraud occurred.

However, the law also has a three years statute of limitations with respect to claims for retaliation. This happens when an individual is subject to retaliation for reporting fraud and wants to sue under the false claims act, section 3730(h). Whistleblowers would, therefore, have a three-year statute of limitations for that kind of claim only.

Government Intervention

If the government decides to intervene in the false claims case, they bear the burden of carrying the litigation forward, and they have to conduct discovery and trial. If it is not intervened, the individual plaintiff-relator still has the right to go forward on their own, but in doing so, the individual bears much more burden in litigating a major case than if the case is not specifically supported by the government.

When the government makes a decision to decline and the individual plaintiff-relator wants to go forward with the case, it would be unsealed and the complaint would have to be served on the defendant and prosecuted like any other lawsuit. The government retains the right to take over the case at any time. Any time the government decides to intervene in the case, it is clear from all the available statistics that the chances of that case’s success increases.


One recent development in a False Claims procedure under the Department of Justice is that while a filing under the federal False Claims Act is a civil manner, the Department of Justice generally reviews all False Claims Act filings for criminal liability. Individuals filing under the False Claims Act cannot maintain a criminal action, only the government has such authority, but of course, the government can use the information this way.

False Claims Law

Despite the fact that a relatively modest number of False Claims Act cases are filed every year, in recent years, the law has a huge impact. The number of cases filed over the last few years has been just a few more than 700 per year. Yet, the False Claims Act is the most powerful tool to fight fraud committed against the government available. It also is the most powerful incentive to correct the behavior of contractors and businesses and individuals who would commit fraud. Since the 1986 amendments brought the False Claims Act back to life, up to $50 billion have been collected as a result of False Claims Act cases. Call today to learn more about the False Claims procedure and how an attorney could help.

Seeking Help with the Process of Filing a False Claims Act Case

One of the main reasons a person should hire an attorney is to know their legal rights. When filing a False Claims Act, Whistleblowers may feel attacked or pressured from the company accused of violating the False Claims Act. Learning what kind of case the whistleblower may have and how to file it appropriately can help to protect their rights A lawyer in the District of Columbia can help you navigate this process from the beginning of submitting a claim. It is important to know your rights throughout the process for filing a False Claims Act case. For more information, contact an attorney today.