Barratry is an act committed by the master or mariners of a vessel, for some unlawful or fraudulent purpose, contrary to their duty to the owners, whereby the latter sustain injury. It may include negligence, if so gross as to evidence fraud.
Barratry can also refer to political corruption. It is often used in this way to describe the sin punished in the fifth subdivision of the eighth circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno. The sin has particular significance within this work, because Dante himself was accused of barratry in the events that led to his exile from Florence.