New legislation is good news for some, but bad news for others
So, does the new Mesothelioma Bill, passed earlier this month, finally bring justice for cancer sufferers negligently exposed to asbestos during their working lives?
The answer appears to be yes for a minority, but no for the majority.
Yes, for some mesothelioma sufferers justice which has always appeared out of reach due to being unable to trace the insurers of the defunct companies they had worked for, is now thankfully a possibility.
A new levy on active insurers, paying compensation to sufferers based on age and who can prove negligence to the standard required by civil law, will see compensation payments of 75% secured.
But, importantly, only those diagnosed after July 25, 2012 are eligible under the new bill. And for those not diagnosed with Mesothelioma, but instead those have suffered from asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening after years of exposure, the fight for justice remains a losing battle.
We at Neil Hudgell Solicitors deal with cases for clients seeking compensation for asbestos-related lung cancer, and therefore we welcome any step forward in providing a platform for victims to secure some form of justice.
But, as yet, many sufferers are still being let down by the latest legal change.
Quite simply, insurers are still not being held fully to account given their collective failure to maintain records of employers’ liability insurance, conveniently saving them hundreds of millions in payments over many years.
In many ways, this bill has been too late in coming, and not all-encompassing enough when finally delivered.
The British death rate from Mesothelioma is currently the highest in the world, but has perhaps now reached its peak.
The reduction in asbestos use over the past 30 years should now see a fall in the numbers of people dying as a result of related illnesses.
Effectively, it means thousands of Mesothelioma sufferers, diagnosed before July 2012 after being negligently exposed to asbestos, but unable to trace their previous company’s insurers, will have missed out on compensation and denied any form of justice.
As for others, even though the dangers of asbestos were well documented, and employers still chose to put their staff at risk, suffering from lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening is not enough to form a case.
Yes, this bill is a step forward for some, but a sideways step for many others seeking justice.
The positive has to be that it has at least opened the door for some to receive a level of compensation, and the families of those diagnosed after July 25, 2012, should now act on the new legislation which supports them.
This opportunity has to be welcomed, and we hope to play our part in helping our clients use this new updated law to get some form of justice they so strongly deserve.