The Mesothelioma Bill gained Royal Assent on 30 January 2014 and is now the Mesothelioma Act 2014.
Claimants diagnosed with the disease on or after 25 July 2012 and who have been unable to trace the relevant insurer or employer, will be able to claim payment at a level of 75% of average civil compensation. A last ditch attempt to increase the compensation cap to 80% was narrowly defeated in the Commons. John Woodcock MP and Matthew Stockwell of APIL were both critical of the Bill for not going far enough. Payments under the scheme will be funded by a 3% levy on active employers' liability insurers.
Ahead of the Bill gaining Royal Assent, DWF Head of Occupational Health Derek Adamson commented to the Insurance Post on 14 January 2014:
“Taking together both the scheme set up by the Mesothelioma Bill for claimants who cannot trace the relevant insurers of their employers, and the increased speed in the handling of claims from those who can, should amount to a worthwhile package of improvements for mesothelioma victims.”
Mesothelioma (Amendments) Bill
On 21 January 2014, Lord Alton introduced the Mesothelioma (Amendments) Bill to the Lords which proposes amendments to the Mesothelioma Bill (which is currently awaiting Royal Assent). The Bill seeks to raise funds to research the disease by way of a 1% levy upon insurers - view the Bill documents.
Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill (Wales)
This Bill allows the Welsh Government to recover the costs of NHS treatment from defendants who have compensated claimants for asbestos related diseases when such NHS costs have been incurred due to the same injury.
Counsel General for Wales Theodore Huckle QC has provided his reasoning for referring the bill to the Supreme Court (see December’s Insurance Brief). He contends that making a reference to the Supreme Court enables the Bill’s competence to be determined before a challenge is received from the insurance industry - Litigation Futures article.
Opposition to forthcoming removal of LASPO funding exemptions
In December the government announced that the exemption to LASPO allowing the recovery of success fees and ATE premiums in mesothelioma cases will come to an end in July. In a Westminster Hall debate on 29 January 2014 those plans were criticised by Andy McDonald MP and others. Justice minister Shailesh Vara said there needed specific justification for the continued difference in treatment between mesothelioma cases and other personal injury cases but there had been little explanation of any particular feature of the mesothelioma claims process that would lead to a different or disproportionate effect on claimants’ access to justice. You can read the debate or a summary from Litigation Futures.
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.