This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Barratry (It. oarrateria, fraud), in maritime law, fraudulent conduct by the master of a vessel, or by the mariners, to the injury of the owner of the ship or cargo, and without his consent. Gross negligence, or unauthorized acts of the master to the injury of the owner, are also held to constitute barratry. Under the first are included wilful acts, such as destroying or carrying off ship or cargo, or embezzling any part of the cargo; under the second, deviation from the usual course of the voyage by the master for his own private purposes, trading with an enemy, evading port duties, disregard of a blockade, and other acts exposing the vessel or cargo to seizure and confiscation. Barratry is one of the risks commonly insured against, and the underwriter is liable for loss by any of the acts above specified, with the limitations: 1, that the owner in order to recover must not have consented to the act of the master or crew, but the consent of the owner of the ship will not affect the right of the owner of tho cargo; so also if the vessel has been chartered, the charterer is pro hac vice the owner, and will not be affected by the connivance of the real owner. 2. The underwriter is liable for the acts of mariners only so far as they could not be prevented by ordinary care on the part of the master.
Barratry by the wilful burning, casting away, or otherwise destroying a vessel on the high seas, is a highly penal offence in Great Britain, and in this country if done by a person belonging to the vessel not being an owner, as also if done by an owner with intent to defraud an under-writer, shipper, or other part owner. (See Barretey).