Monday 1st August 2011 is the closing date to apply for the Ministry of Justice ‘Pleural Plaques Former Claimants Scheme’.

If you have been previously diagnosed with the asbestos-related condition, pleural plaques, you have now less than seven days to contact the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to check whether or not you are eligible to claim £5,000 in government compensation.

Exactly one year ago, the Ministry of Justice launched a special payment Scheme which allowed a period of 12 months for all applications to be made for eligibility to receive one-off payments of £5,000 by those individuals who had already begun but not resolved a legal asbestosis claim for pleural plaques compensation.

A legal claim for pleural plaques compensation should have commenced before 17th October 2007. This is the date when the Ministry of Justice upheld the Law Lords ruling on a Court Of Appeal decision.

The ruling stated that despite the existence of pleural plaques clearly showing exposure to asbestos, they are not, in themselves, harmful symptoms and therefore, not grounds for the awarding of compensatable damage under the civil law.

The claim status regarding pleural plaques has always been viewed very differently from asbestos compensation and mesothelioma compensation. Both are recognised as lawful claims, awarded often up to 50 years after first exposure to asbestos within the workplace.

The MoJ also concluded that an individual diagnosed with pleural plaques would only have an increased risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as the fatal incurable cancer, mesothelioma, as a direct result of their exposure to asbestos rather than because of the plaques themselves.

However, the Government introduced the scheme to determine eligibility for those claimants in the special circumstances of having already begun, but not resolved, a legal claim for compensation before the Law Lords ruling.

Pleural plaques are defined as small, raised areas or tissue, which are usually found on the pleural cavity – the space between a thin membrane consisting of two single layers, one covering the chest wall, the other lining the lungs. Their presence is simply an indication of exposure to asbestos at some point in the past, almost always in the workplace and are not associated with any asbestosis symptoms and will not cause illness.

Conditions for initial eligibility for the Pleural Plaques Former Claimants Scheme are :

(i) If the pleural plaques sufferer has died, claims by executors and next of kin will not be eligible and subject to the recent concession concerning applications by living claimants who have also died since submission of an application.

(ii) Secondary exposure victims who came into direct contact with a family member’s asbestos-contaminated work clothing will be liable to supply proof, for example, of the family member’s employment or other workplace attendance records.

(iii) Claimants who were previously successful in being awarded damages for other asbestos-related diseases may also be eligible for a payment under the pleural plaques scheme. It must be clearly demonstrated that any previous compensation was not given for the presence of plaques.

To check NOW if you are eligible for the Pleural Plaques Former Claimants Scheme, click onto the MoJ website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/compensation-schemes/pleural-plaques/index.htm

Or you can call on TEL : 0300 303 8150.