Thompsons Solicitors has welcomed the commitment of the Foreign Secretary and South Shields MP David Milliband to press the case for urgent government consideration of an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB).

An ELIB would plug the black holes in records of employers’ liability insurance into which an estimated 5% to 10% of asbestos related disease claims fall.

At the moment a claimant who cannot trace the insurer of an employer which has gone out of business is unable to claim damages.

Thompsons is arguing there should be the same protection for injured working people as there is for those injured on the roads by uninsured drivers. Where a negligent driver who is uninsured causes injury or death the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) pays full compensation to the victim.

The rights of injured workers and their families need to be protected

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The trade unions' and Thompsons’ campaign for an insurance fund of last resort is receiving significant political backing. Having a senior cabinet minister, who knows from his own constituency the cruel twists of fate that condemn some to getting no compensation whilst others receive what they are due in full, is hugely helpful.

“Mr Miliband’s commitment to ensure the concept of an ELIB is looked into by government is a timely step down the road to recognising that it is the most effective way to protect the rights of injured working people and their families.”

Thompsons Solicitors’ call for a fund to mirror that which pays compensation to those injured by uninsured drivers comes after a recent review of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) voluntary tracing scheme. The review showed just 41% of enquiries to the scheme were successful with more than 7,000 enquiries failing to trace an insurer.

In any disease case where the injury is not immediately apparent following exposure, particularly asbestos where the latency period of the disease can be up to 40 years or more, it is necessary to track down previous employers and their employers liability insurers.

In 1999 members of the ABI agreed to hold information on policies for 60 years in a searchable database. A DWP review of the scheme from 2006 to 2007 shows that this voluntary code does not help in most cases to trace insurers.