The Justice Select Committee has demanded that the Government carries out a second review on Mesothelioma, after controversy broke out over an alleged secret deal brokered between themselves and the Association of British Insurers.
MPs raised concerns that the original review into the impact of abolishing recoverability of success fees for Mesothelioma had not been approached in a thorough and even handed way and that respondents were not given enough relevant information due to the timing of the review and how it was approached.
The criticisms by the committee come off the back of last month’s revelations that there was evidence of a secret agreement made between the Government and the ABI, where an alleged “Heads of Agreement document” suggested that the ABI had agreed to fund a special deal, later to be known as the Mesothelioma Act, in exchange for the abolishment of recoverability.
Speaking about the review process the Committee, said: “It is hard to see how a balanced and informed public debate can take place when a prior agreement has been reached between two of the principal parties to that debate, and that agreement is not known to others participating in the debate, including victims.”
He said: “The decision to abolish recoverability for Mesothelioma victims is as close to robbing the sick on their deathbeds as you can get.”
“This isn’t just about people with a severe disability that will hinder them for the rest of their lives. This is about people who have had their lives cruelly cut short due to the negligence of their employers.”
“They didn’t ask to have to spend money to get legal representation and I think I can safely say I speak for every Mesothelioma victim when I say they would much rather have more time to enjoy their lives with their family, than having to seek compensation to provide for them, so the fact the Government and the ABI would strike a deal upon taking away money that they should be entitled to is inhumane.”
Concluding their report the Committee, said: “The haste with which the government embarked on a review and consultation, and the way in which it presented them, left those who favoured retention of the LASPO exemption for mesothelioma potentially disadvantaged in terms of marshalling a persuasive case.”
“We recommend that the government defer the introduction of the change it has announced until it has undertaken a further consultation, which should be framed unambiguously and centrally on the question of whether the LASPO provisions should be brought into effect for Mesothelioma.”
“This consultation should be informed by an updated cost-benefit analysis, on which respondents should be asked to comment.”
“We consider that such a consultation should not be undertaken until sufficient tie has elapsed for the effects of the LASPO changes in non-mesothelioma cases to be assessed.”
The first payments for the Mesothelioma Act are due to be made this month and it was the Government’s aim to coincide this with the abolition of Recoverability. But thanks to the findings of the Justice Select Committee’s report, the Justice Minister, Lord Faulks, has told the committee that nothing more would happen until the autumn.