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Lawyers Take Mesothelioma Case To High Court

Posted in: Asbestos Exposure Employer Negligence Mesothelioma 

A group of lawyers have begun a High Court challenge this week in response to the government’s decision to make mesothelioma sufferers pay from their awarded damages, legal and insurance costs.

Previously, an exemption had preserved claimants’ rights to reclaim after-event premiums and success fees from the losing party in their case, however the government decided to remove this exemption.

The enforcement of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act in April 2013 confirmed the abolition of recoverability for other injury claims. 

The exemption was created subsequent to the House of Lords insisting whilst the act was going through parliament, that the government undertake a review of the potential effect on mesothelioma claims.

The lawyers bringing the case on behalf of mesothelioma sufferers argue no such review has taken place, and seek to challenge the Justice Secretary’s decision. The challenge is being brought by the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum (UK).

Richard Stein, one of the lawyers involved in the case, has stated the intention of the amendment imposed by the Lords, was to ensure information was produced about the potential effects of LASPO changes.

Lawyers will seek to argue in court  this week that there was not sufficient time set aside to remove the exemption – between April 2013 and the decision to remove the exemption in December 2013. Mr Stein said: 

“Evidence of the substantial reductions which the LASPO reforms will make on damages recovered by mesothelioma sufferers is starting to emerge. We are asking the court to tell the government that they need to wait until these impacts of the LASPO changes are clear before they act.

The government has argued in response that the required review was carried out during the consultation process for ‘Reforming Mesothelioma Claims’, which took place between July and October 2013.

The Chair of the forum Tony Whitston, made clear that  sufferers and their families will accept a decision if it is based on a ‘fair and credible’ review. He added;

“The government’s decision to proceed on the basis of such a flawed review will not be accepted by sufferers or their families and will result in an enduring sense of grievance for years to come.”

Minister for Justice, Shailesh Vara has said he cannot see a reason why mesothelioma cases should be treated differently from other serious or catastrophic personal injury cases.

Vara also stated in a debate in the Commons in January that the consultation from last year on mesothelioma had produced ‘little explanation’ of how LASPO would have a different or disproportionate effect on mesolthelioma claimants’ access to justice.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common way that people contract the disease from exposure to asbestos is through their employment, but it isn’t uncommon for people to have come into contact with asbestos at their school.

The cells affected by this cancer are the mesothelial cells – where the cancer gets it’s name – which cover the outside of the organs. Mesothelioma can potentially develop on the lungs, the heart or the abdomen.

Sadly, there is no cure for mesothelioma. After being diagnosed with the disease, victims may only have a short time to live. Usually, regular forms of cancer treatment will be explored to asses whether they would be worth while, however, mesothelioma is considered to be a terminal illness.

Have you been affected by Mesothelioma?

We’re experts in dealing with industrial disease claims and our expert, specialist lawyers are trained to assist you in claiming the maximum compensation.

However the powerlessness and uncertainty that you and your family are going through, as a result of your injury, need not be added to by the prospect of seeking financial redress through a legal claim.

The first step towards the peace of mind you are looking for is a realistic appraisal of your options.

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