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Disease: Mesothelioma update

This month we include updates on the MoJ consultation – speeding up handling of mesothelioma claims, the publication of the British Lung Foundation’s survey data and the Mesothelioma Bill.

MoJ consultation – speeding up handling of mesothelioma claims

By way of reminder, the proposals in this consultation look to increase the pace and improve the efficiency of the claims process so that early payment of compensation is made. The proposals include:

  • A new dedicated Mesothelioma Pre-Action Protocol (MPAP) to establish a quicker standard process to set timescales for more straightforward mesothelioma claims.
  • An industry-funded electronic Secure Mesothelioma Claims Gateway (SMCG) which aims to support the MPAP by providing a secure method for claimants to register necessary information such as medical records. The SMCG will also handle untraced mesothelioma claims.
  • Development of a fixed recoverable costs (FRC) regime.
  • A review of the impact on mesothelioma claims of the recoverability from defendants of success fees under conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and of ATE premiums/membership organisation notional premiums, as required by section 48 LASPO. While the Government has implemented, from 1 April 2013, reforms to the ‘no win no fee’ system for personal injury cases, mesothelioma cases are currently exempt from these reforms until the issue is reviewed.

The consultation closes on 2 October 2013

Consultation page: A consultation on proposals to speed up the settlement of mesothelioma claims in England and Wales 

British Lung Foundation Mesothelioma Compensation Survey May 2013 – now published

This month, FOIL reported on the publication by the MoJ of a survey of 240 mesothelioma sufferers and family members, undertaken by the British Lung Foundation and mentioned in the above consultation on speeding up settlement of mesothelioma claims. Chapter 2 of the paper starts with a sentence from the survey, indicating that 43% of respondents were “deeply distressed or unhappy about the [claims] process”. The complete survey is available on the above consultation page.

FOIL also highlight analysis from an interim dataset supplied by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) which is also included in the consultation and the accompanying impact assessment. The data gives an indication of claims levels, compensation levels, case durations and legal costs and disbursements. The MoJ has indicated that it is not possible to publish the whole dataset for reasons of confidentiality of the individuals who responded.

The impact assessment predicts that the income of both claimant and defendant lawyers will be reduced if the reform package is introduced, on the basis that less work will be required to conclude cases and a fixed costs regime will be introduced (although fixed costs will not apply to defendants as the fixed costs regime will only apply in cases where liability has been admitted and therefore defendant costs will not be recoverable). This of course pre-supposes that the fixed costs introduced are limited to pre-ligation costs. The assessment sets out the possibility that the “portfolio management benefits” that will come from more predictable work and income streams under the new regime may attract more small and micro legal firms into the field.

Mesothelioma Bill

The Mesothelioma Bill continues to progress through Parliament and is expected to have its second reading House of Commons debate on a date yet to be announced. The Bill aims to establish a scheme that will provide payments to people with mesothelioma who were exposed to asbestos negligently or in breach of statutory duty by relevant employers, who are unable to bring actions for civil damages and who are not eligible for compensation from other specified sources and to improve tracing of EL insurers to allow civil claims to be resolved more quickly.

If you require any further information please contact Derek Adamson, Partner and Head of Occupational Health and Casualty on 0121 200 0437 or at derek.adamson@dwf.co.uk

Mesothelioma Bill home page

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.