Mesothelioma campaigners have warned the government it would be a mistake to introduce fixed costs for all cases.
The plan to automate the process has been strongly criticised by a leading claimant lawyer as an attack on access to justice.
In a written statement to parliament, Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “The government considers that it is imperative that these claims are settled quickly and that early payment of compensation is made so as to ease the sufferings of victims of this dreadful industrial disease and give some assurance that their dependents will be financially secure when they are no longer around.
“However, this cannot be achieved without a speedy pre-litigation process, which is why the government has decided to consult on how best to reduce delays in these cases.”
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and terminal occupational disease with an average life expectancy of less than two years from diagnosis. A mesothelioma claim for compensation can take up to two years to settle which means that sufferers often die before their claims are paid out.
Tony Whitston, chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ forum, said: “Ministers should not make the mistake of thinking claims are always simple or straightforward.”
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