Backlash against Plans to Reform Mesothelioma Cases

The Ministry of Justice’s proposal to introduce fixed costs for all mesothelioma cases has been heavily criticised by asbestos-related disease sufferers, shortly before a consultation is due to begin over the issue.

In December last year, it was announced that a consultation focusing on ways to streamline the settlement of mesothelioma cases would be launched around springtime.

A consultation into the matter has been expected since the government placed asbestos-related diseases outside the remit of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. Furthermore, the reform of no-win, no-fee agreements and abolishment of reclaimable post-event insurance will be reviewed later this year.

It is expected that the spring consultation will feature the following proposals:

• Fixed legal costs for the conduct of mesothelioma personal injury claims

• A bespoke pre-action protocol for dealing with such cases

• Streamlining of the administration and settlement of cases through an online claims portal

There are fears however that the government has misunderstood the nature of mesothelioma cases. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum Chairman, Tony Whitston, has suggested that the MoJ has oversimplified cases and that attempting to resolve cases as quickly as possible was not necessarily a good idea.

This is in stark contrast to the view of Justice Minister Helen Grant who contends that claims should be settled as early and as quickly as possible, without the need for costly and time-consuming litigation. With many sufferers dying before settlement, this may be more cost-effective.

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