The High Court witnessed day one of the fight against the Government’s decision to force Mesothelioma victims to pay for legal and insurance costs from their damages.
Lawyers, who are acting for those unfortunate enough to suffer from the asbestos related illness, are at the High Court to demand that the removal of the exemption, which protected their right to claim after-the-event insurance and success fees at the expense of the defendant be quashed, be overturned and are led by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK).
They will put forward the argument that insufficient time was set aside from April 2013 to make such a decision.
Richard Stein, who is from the human rights department at Leigh Day, the national firm that leads the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum (UK), said “Evidence of the substantial reductions which the LASPO reforms will make on damages recovered by Mesothelioma sufferers is starting to emerge.”
“We are asking the court to tell the government that they need to wait until these impacts of the LASPO changes are clear before they act.”
It is the government’s belief that the review that was required to make this decision was carried out as part of the consultation ‘Reforming Mesothelioma Claims’ which took place from July to October last year and Justice minister Shailesh Vara has claimed that there was no reason why Mesothelioma cases should be treated different from other serious personal injury cases, a point that Scott Rees & Co’s Partner for Catastrophic injury, Chris Walker, disagrees with.
He said: “The big difference between Mesothelioma and other serious catastrophic injury cases is that in the case of Mesothelioma it almost certainly condemns the sufferer to a shorter lifespan.”
“Although other serious injuries are exactly that, they are less likely to result in the premature ending of a loved ones life.”
“The same cannot be said for those unfortunate people who have contracted mesothelioma and that is why it is crucial that we allow them the most out of their damages.”
“This will ensure that the time that they have left with their family is as stress free and rewarding as it could be in such dire circumstances. It also allows some financial freedom for their families when the sad time of their death occurs. Their damages should not go to pay lawyers and insurance companies. Damages should go to the victims and no one else.”
The Forum chair, Tony Whitson, also stood firm on the subject, saying: “The government’s decision to proceed on the basis of such a flawed review will not be accepted by sufferers or their families and will result in an enduring sense of grievance for years to come.”
There has been many who have expressed the opinion that the government’s decision to remove the exemption may come down to a deal to appease the insurance companies who back the Government, although this is vehemently denied by both parties.