Legal Battle Over Mesothelioma Claim Costs
Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, has recently gone back on an agreement to protect mesothelioma claims
from tighter rules for 'no win, no fee' arrangements.
What was Meant to Happen
Previously, if you won a compensation claim for an illness or injury, you could recover any legal expenses from an insurance policy
you had taken out. The 'success fee' for a no win, no fee agreement could be recovered from the other side.
A change in the law, supposedly aiming to tackle 'compensation culture' has meant that these must always be paid by the person making the claim
, even if they win.
However, it was initially agreed that this change wouldn't come into force for mesothelioma claims
, due to the nature of the claims and the need for them to be settled appropriately for the sufferer and/or their family. This agreement has been broken.
The Legal Battle
The legal argument is quite technical, but the idea was that the changes in the law might have a negative impact on sufferers
and their families, and so mesothelioma claims wouldn't be subject to the change in the law. The argument made by Richard Stein, a human rights lawyer is that the House of Lords were not given time to consider the impact
on mesothelioma victims before the law was passed, as the bill was rushed through parliament.
Stein wants the government to wait before changing the law, as the impact on mesothelioma victims
could be drastic. Mesothelioma claims are very different to minor personal injury claims
, which are the main target of the reforms.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which ultimately proves fatal for its victims
, as there is no known cure for it. It is often fatal within 18 months of the diagnosis
, which means that in many cases, it is the family of the victim who must bring a legal claim.
The Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum, who are bringing the case, stated:
"Mesothelioma sufferers and their families will accept a decision on the imposition of legal costs
if it is based on a fair and credible review. 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."