Mesothelioma sufferers could once more be wondering just how much of their entitlement to mesothelioma compensation they will be finally awarded even if their claim against a defendant is successful under current government changes proposed by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

A short consultation at the end of April was announced by the parliamentary Justice Committee, which will once again enquire as to whether there is a special case to be made for excluding specific sections of the Act to be applied to those who make mesothelioma claims.

“Appropriateness of the Government’s decision…”

Concerns have been raised over the introduction of LASPO, and in particular, sections 44 and 46, which aims at reforming the ‘no-win no-fee’ approach, and prevent the winning party from recovering a success fee or the “After The Event” insurance premium from the losing side.

The Commons select committee invited written evidence to be submitted by 30 April 2014 on “the appropriateness of the Government’s decision to apply the provisions in sections 44 and 46 of the LASPO Act 2012 to mesothelioma claims.”

Despite the government issuing a written statement in December last year, announcing their decision to apply the LASPO provisions to mesothelioma cases with effect from July 2014, the present consultation allows a further examination of the case for excluding mesothelioma sufferers from losing payments. Section 48 of LASPO provides an exemption for mesothelioma claims until the Lord Chancellor has carried out a review, and the conclusions reached to be published in a report.

The Consultation will look at the following key issues:

• The potential impact of the provisions on mesothelioma claims.
• Features which distinguish mesothelioma claims from other personal injury claims.
• The process of the review under section 48 of the Act.

Many mesothelioma sufferers and their families have already been dealt a blow in January by the passing of the Mesothelioma Bill, which reduced payments under the scheme to 75 per cent of the full amount, and excludes eligibility to anyone diagnosed with the fatal incurable cancer before 25th July 2012.

It also looked likely that victims could be doubly targeted by payments cuts as both the scheme set out in the Mesothelioma Bill and the new provisions under LASPO are due to come into force, together, in July this year.

Justice should not be compromised

Entitlement to justice for damage and suffering caused by the continuing legacy of employer negligence during the peak years of asbestos use in the British workplace should not be compromised by LASPO.

Mesothelioma fatalities have been steadily rising in the UK with a four-fold increase just in the last thirty years (Office of National Statistics) and around 4,700 asbestos disease related deaths recorded every year (HSE). Over the next ten years, it is estimated that a total of 28,500 deaths are to be expected.