The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has led attacks on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), as they revealed plans to scrap the exemption, allowing the recoverability of success fees and after-the-event insurance for mesothelioma cases.
APIL were not the only ones to voice their displeasure at the announcement made by the Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara (pictured) at a Westminster Hall debate last week as several MPs also lambasted the proposals.
The Justice Minister audaciously claimed that there was insufficient justification for mesothelioma cases being treated in a different way to other personal injury claim types.
This was met with a frosty reception with many criticising the MoJ for not even publishing a report to explain the findings and the president of APIL, Matthew Stockwell, took his opportunity to clarify why there was justification.
He told the debate: “It’s impossible to rationalise why dying people should have to pay for the inherent risks of pursuing redress, when they certainly never asked to be in a position where the need compensation.
“Mesothelioma claimants know they are going to die, and they know they have to race against the clock when they make a claim. They are simply trying to make their last few months more bearable, and to ensure that their families will have some security when they’re gone. If ever a claimant needed full compensation; it is surely the claimant facing a death sentence just because they turned up for work.”
Mr Stockwell’s words were also echoed by MPs attending the debate including Labour MP, Andy McDonald, who is himself a former claimant solicitor.
He said: “There were just three months between the introduction of the new regime in April and the July review, that was simply far too soon for any proper assessment to have been made of the likely effects of sections 44 and 46 (banning the recoverability of success fees and ATE respectively) on mesothelioma claims. No one can tell at this stage how much clients will be charged by solicitors under LASPO. The situation is developing as the market adapts.
“The same can be said of the cost of ATE insurance. The government are jumping the gun. They need to pause and commit to a genuine process of review.”
But Mr Vara remained defiant on the MoJ’s stance and claimed that the government were left in no doubt that it was there was no justification for Mesothelioma sufferers to be exempt, when other serious personal injury claimants were already regulated by LASPO.
He told the debate: “The government have carefully considered the likely effect of implementing the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims, including the evidence put before us by respondents to the consultation. The issues raised, however, were generally similar to those in other very serious personal injury cases to which the reforms already apply.”
It is clear that once again the MoJ have missed the point when it comes to the nature of mesothelioma.
This is not an illness that you can live with, it is effectively a death sentence and for those unfortunate people who are suffering it, just because they went to work, there is no brighter outlook other than the knowledge that they can ensure that their family is looked after, once they have gone, something that will ultimately be limited if the government force this through.
1. YouTube; BLD Lawyers; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQMI5q-PRgY