A decision made in the High Court means the Government will stop taking a slice of the damages awarded to people suffering from the cancer mesothelioma.
Judge Mr Justice William Davis ruled that using the money to cover legal insurance and costs is against the law because the Government had not undertaken a full review of how it would affect people.
The Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK decided to challenge the decision by Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to take as much as a quarter of the compensation entitled to those who have developed the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
The Government needed the money to cover the costs that had been met in the past by insurance company levies.
Mesothelioma, which affects the lungs’ pleural lining is caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. It killed more than 2,500 people in 2012 and the number of fatalities is expected to rise until at least 2016 before it starts to ease.
Personal injury claims
Government changes to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into effect in April 2013. They included making personal injury compensation claimants contribute some of the money they received to cover the costs of making the claim in the first place.
The Forum’s argument was that mesothelioma sufferers were entitled to a special exemption and the Government should not be able to take any compensation money from them until it reviews the impact of its reforms.
The House of Lords said there had been a review but according to Tony Whitston, the chairman of the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK, it was neither effective nor properly informed and he applied for a judicial review.
The Reforming Mesothelioma Claims consultation was a proper review, the Government said.
‘No proper review of reforms’
But Mr Justice William Davis disagreed, saying in his opinion Mr Grayling had not held a proper review of the LASPO reforms.
He confirmed that no legal charges should be asked for under the Act until Government completes a section 48 review.
If you have been made ill or injured at work and you would like to know more about claiming compensation, contact Accident Advice Helpline.
Date Published: October 4, 2014
Author: David Brown