NI Pleural Plaques Legislation ‘Leaves England And Wales Behind’

New Regulations To Come Into Force This Month

07.12.2011

Asbestos claims experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed the upcoming introduction of legislation which will allow pleural plaques sufferers in Northern Ireland to seek justice over the condition, but warned that England and Wales are lagging behind on the issue.

It has been confirmed the regulations will come into force in Northern Ireland on December 14th, just two months after a Supreme Court decision confirmed that those affected by the illness in Scotland can also claim in relation to the condition.

However, it remains the case that sufferers in England and Wales are not able to claim damages in relation to their condition.

Pleural plaques are small patches of thickening of the lung lining which often become hardened – or calcified – with the passage of time. While they do not, in themselves, cause disability or pose a threat to life, they do indicate exposure to asbestos and carry with them a possible risk of developing a future asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma.

Ministers in Northern Ireland have reportedly created a £2.5 million fund in preparation for an increase in claims.

Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The impending introduction of the legislation is great news which will ensure that many people whose lives have been affected by asbestos exposure will be able to seek justice.

“However, this is sadly another sign of the postcode lottery which has developed, as those in England and Wales still have no chance of ever gaining access to justice over these problems. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have recognised this issue, it is surely time that other jurisdictions fell in line.

“Our work with victims of asbestos-related disease has shown that pleural plaques have a huge impact on sufferers. It is only fair that people are able to fight for justice and hold employers that failed to act on risks to account.”