Government’s ‘Give And Take’ Approach To Mesothelioma Victims Must Change

Portal Plan Under Review But Proposals To Remove LASPO Exemption Revealed


Legal experts specialising in helping victims of asbestos-related illness have called on the government to stop taking a ‘give and take’ approach to mesothelioma victims and the justice they deserve.

In a written ministerial statement issued today, it has been confirmed that ministers are no longer pressing ahead with introducing fixed costs in mesothelioma cases or a proposed pre-action protocol. The introduction of a portal to cover such cases – known as an electronic gateway – is also now under review.

However, the news has been dampened by fresh proposals to remove an exemption from measures in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), which means that a proportion of legal costs incurred by mesothelioma sufferers will, from next July, come out of the damages they have been awarded.

Now, Irwin Mitchell’s specialist asbestos-related disease team have called on the government to take a consistent approach to helping mesothelioma sufferers and ensure they get the fair treatment they deserve.

Expert Opinion
It is very pleasing to see today’s news regarding the re-examination of proposals for a mesothelioma protocol and the use of fixed fees, as we have always held the view that the complexity and diversity of claims of this nature means they are not suited to such a rigid system.

"However, it is very worrying to see ministers seemingly adopting a ‘give and take’ approach towards such claimants, with that good news being tempered by bad with the proposed removal of the mesothelioma exemption from the LASPO measures introduced earlier this year.

"Every person diagnosed with mesothelioma has already paid the ultimate price, usually as a result of the negligence of their employer. So, to see them potentially face the second cost of losing a significant part of the vital funds they and their family receive to cover care and support costs is just unthinkable.

"Put simply, it is bad enough that very seriously injured people are already affected by the legislation, but this plan would also see dying people pulled into it. Victims of mesothelioma and their families have been through enough already and the least the government can do is to ensure they are treated fairly.”

“If the government wants to introduce a system which acts in the best interests of victims of mesothelioma, they need to ensure that any parties they work with include victims’ charities and support groups.

"These groups were highly critical of the proposals the government has now thankfully stepped away from and it is imperative that victims are given a voice this time as new measures are considered and taken forward, to ensure ministers properly understand the incredibly difficult problems that those affected by mesothelioma and their families face as a result of this dreadful illness.

"This should then ensure Westminster is capable of introducing measures which mean that victims of asbestos-related illness can access the essential help and support they need."
Adrian Budgen, Partner