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Mesothelioma claims and funding: the Government delays proposed No Win No Fee Reforms

How will legal funding changes affect asbestos cases?

photo of lung: istock

17 May 2012

In April 2013 the Government’s reforms of “No Win, No Fee” cases will come into force. The changes mean that in future solicitors will deduct a “success fee” from claimants (rather than being paid by defendants) and claimants will have to pay for insurance to protect them from adverse legal costs (again, currently paid by defendants). The overall effect is that claimants will receive less compensation and may have to pay thousands of pounds at the start of a case with no guarantee of winning.

In April 2012 the Government announced that mesothelioma claims will be initially excluded from the Government’s reforms pending a review on how the proposed reforms would affect them. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer always caused by asbestos exposure, which commonly occurred in the 1960s and 1970s (the illness can take decades to develop). 

The Government concession gives hope to many mesothelioma sufferers and their families. Mesothelioma claims tend to be complex and costly to run. As the disease often takes decades to develop, many claimants find that the defendant companies who exposed them to asbestos have long since stopped trading or disappeared. Claimant solicitors often undertake lengthy investigations to locate defendants, with no guaranteed results.  Many of the victims, facing a fatal diagnosis and concern for the financial future of their families simply cannot afford thousands of pounds of legal fees to pursue a claim.

The House of Lords has on two occasions defeated the Government’s proposals in relation to mesothelioma cases, urging the Government to reconsider their position. On 23 April 2012 during Oral Questions Lord Alton of Liverpool summed up many of their concerns: “Does the Minister agree that one of the cruellest industrial diseases is the asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma, which can strike up to 40 years after exposure and has thus far claimed the lives of 30,000 workers? Is not one of the best things that the Government can do to support such workers is to respond positively to the all-party calls made in both Houses for mesothelioma victims not to have to face surrendering up to 25 per cent of their much-needed compensation to pay legal costs-compensation which they need in facing the last nine months to one year of their lives?”

This move is welcomed by campaigners, mesothelioma suffers and asbestos lawyers alike. However, a concern remains about what will happen in the future. The Government has shown determination to reform civil litigation costs and as such it may be just a question of time until mesothelioma claims will be included in their plans.

Asbestos claims and mesothelioma lawyers

Leigh Day has a team of specialist mesothelioma claims lawyers who have successfully obtained millions of pounds in compensation for people who have contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the workplace.  We only represent claimants and do not act for insurance companies.  Daniel Easton, partner and head of the industrial diseases team, has been recognised as a leader in the areas of asbestos compensation claims by both major legal directories.  Chambers guide to the legal profession recently described him as being considered ‘outstandingly knowledgeable’ by the Bar, and ‘compassionate’ and ‘responsive’ by clients.  Mesothelioma specialist lawyer Harminder Bains is described by Chambers as an "excellent negotiator," who is a popular choice for asbestos-related litigation.

If you would like to talk to one of our lawyers about a possible claim for compensation relating to asbestos, asbestosis, pleural plaques or mesothelioma please contact us on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.

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