Campaigners for changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill for mesothelioma No Win No Fee claims were delighted this week at the government´s decision to exempt asbestos-related injuries from their reforms.
In the bill, the government planned to remove access to conditional fee agreements for all personal injury claimants to address a perceived “compensation culture” and deter spurious claims. However, campaigners argued that “It is not right to put victims of an extraordinary disease, where no fraud is possible and compensation is certain, into a situation where in their last few months of life they are being forced to shop around for a lawyer in order to pay the least amount of success fees.”
Bowing to pressure from the Lords, the Department of Justice Minister – Jonathan Djanogly – announced that those suffering from mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis and diffuse pleural thickening would now become a special case. In a statement to the Commons, Mr Djanogly announced “careful reflection about the special case of mesothelioma sufferers”, and also said the government was looking at ways of making it easier for sufferers and their solicitors to trace their former employer’s insurers.
The news of the changes to mesothelioma No Win No Fee claims for compensation was also greeted on the opposition benches. Sadiq Khan – shadow justice secretary – told the House “The key question here is should victims of industrial diseases like mesothelioma have to hand over part of their damages to their lawyers and insurer, or should the wrongdoers fund the cost of the successful litigation?”