Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Wales, today reinforced the need for union legal services  across Wales.  Hain was speaking at a ceremony to mark the official opening of a new office in Swansea for leading South Wales law firm Thompsons Solicitors, a firm which won £35 million last year in compensation for people in Wales with industrial diseases such as asbestos related diseases, and those injured in workplaces and other accidents.

With an office in Cardiff since 1965, Thompsons Solicitors have a strong heritage and pedigree of successful cases in Wales.  Mr Hain met a number of the firm’s clients, including Judith Palmer, who is involved with fundraising activities for the UK wide charity Clydeside Action on Asbestos. She's also helping to set up a Welsh helpline for victims and their families. 

Another client is Malcolm Lucas and his wife, whose son Craig Lucas drowned in the Swansea Marina.  They have campaigned for safety barriers to be provided in the Marina area where he drowned.  The family got close to 30,000 signatures from Swansea people in support of their campaign, and they are currently awaiting the inquest.

Addressing the trade unions present, Mr Hain said: “Your members are fortunate to have a firm with the dedication and experience of Thompsons on their side. As a former trade union representative, I know the value of proper legal advice, and I have been particularly impressed by Thompsons’ dedicated efforts to protect workers through raising the public’s awareness of health and safety issues.”

“There is a public perception of a ‘compensation culture’ and so the government is debating the need to regulate certain rogue claims management companies. But we strongly believe that trade union legal services have a vital role to play in acting as a filter for genuine cases, in promoting good health and safety, and in attracting compensation for those who deserve it. On this note, the Lord Chancellor has confirmed that he ‘can’t envisage taking action which would damage these good and beneficial union activities.’”

We have a long and proud history of working with injured people across South Wales

Joanna Stevens, branch manager for Thompsons Solicitors, explains: “We have a long and proud history of working with injured people across South Wales.  Over the years, we’ve gained unparalleled experience, handling tens of thousands of cases for accident and occupational disease victims.  We want to make this experience and support available to everyone locally.”

The firm is running free legal advice surgeries for local residents to coincide with the office  opening.  Lawyers from the firm will be on hand every Saturday morning from 10am-12pm, starting on 15 October.

The team will be available at 30-31 Castle Street to offer advice on any aspect of compensation rights for injury or disease.  The team is currently involved in a number of leading cases for victims of asbestos disease, chemical poisoning and catastrophic injury.  No booking is required; local residents are invited to simply turn up and meet with some of the most experienced personal injury lawyers in Wales.