Mesothelioma bill falls short
Labour & European Law Review Weekly Issue 320 23 May 2013
Thompsons has warned that the Mesothelioma Bill, which was debated this week in parliament, will deprive hundreds of people with the fatal asbestos-related cancer of compensation.
Announced in this month’s Queen’s Speech, the Bill imposes an arbitrary cut-off date and will pay only two thirds of damages to claimants.
The Bill establishes a scheme of “last resort” in order to provide compensation in mesothelioma claims only, where the employer no longer exists and the employer’s insurer is untraced.
This has been scaled down from the consultation in 2010 when the then Labour government proposed to assist anyone who contracted an industrial disease as a result of their employer’s negligence but who could not trace the insurers.
Mesothelioma sufferers and the dependants of sufferers who have died from the disease are only eligible for payment under the scheme if:
- They have proof of liability due to asbestos exposure during employment in the UK
- The claim is against a “relevant employer” with no traced employer liability insurance
- Diagnosis of mesothelioma was on or after 25 July 2012
- They have not and cannot bring a compensation claim against a solvent employer or traced insurer
- They have not received any damages or payments (such as from an employer’s trust fund) and are not eligible to do so.
The actual amounts of payments and periodic up-ratings will be set under the regulations, but Thompsons calculates that they will be about 70 per cent of the average value based on a survey of previous claims.
Ian McFall, national head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons said: “While the Bill will be presented as an act of benevolence, it is the result of a deal struck between the government and the insurance industry without consultation with claimants, support groups or trade unions.
“Aside from the thousands of people who have been deprived of compensation over the years due to the insurance industry’s incompetence in losing or destroying the policies it sold for decades in a compulsory market, hundreds more people will lose out due to the government’s delay of over two years in announcing this limited scheme, because the scheme is only effective from the date of that announcement.
“The fact is this scheme will not provide full protection or full compensation to victims and their families.”
Read Thompsons’ Mesothelioma Bill briefing