The Government will work with victims groups and insurers representing employers to explore new ways to improve the legal process for handling claims from victims of mesothelioma - a condition which often develops decades after the sufferer has been exposed to asbestos but usually kills within months of being diagnosed.
Changes to no-win no-fee deals for these kinds of cases will also be implemented – meaning less should be spent on legal costs. This will bring mesothelioma claims in line with other personal injury cases.
Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said:
Mesothelioma is an awful condition which can destroy lives in a frighteningly short amount of time and we want to do everything we can to help sufferers and their families.
We will be working closely with victims, their representatives, insurers and others over the next few months to establish the best way to get claims settled fairly and quickly.
The announcement follows a consultation earlier this year which proposed the creation of a new out-of-court system intended to see claims settled quicker.
In light of evidence from respondents, including the views of victims groups, the Government has decided not to go ahead with a proposed new set of rules (called the Mesothelioma Pre Action Protocol (MPAP)) to control out-of-court settlements and will now work with all parties to improve the existing process. Proposals to set standardised payments for lawyers making claims will also not be taken forward at this stage.
The insurance industry is considering whether to go ahead with a consultation proposal to set up an electronic case management system for mesothelioma claims.
Other measures to support mesothelioma sufferers, including a £350m fund to compensate those who cannot trace the liable employer, are already being put in place by insurers and the Department for Work and Pensions through the Mesothelioma Bill currently progressing through Parliament.
Notes to editors
- View the consultation
- Approximately 2,200 people die from mesothelioma in the UK each year. The symptoms often develop 30 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Sufferers have an average life expectancy of less than nine months once diagnosed.
- Changes to no-win no-fee deals which were set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will be implemented for mesothelioma cases from July 2014. They were brought in for most other types of cases on 1 April 2013. The consultation included a review of this issue, as agreed during the passage of the Act.
- For further information please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us @MoJpress