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Leigh Day awarded Personal Injury team of the year

Leigh Day's Personal Injury team wins award at Solicitors' Journal Awards

Asbestos team of the year

26 May 2016

Leigh Day has won the Personal Injury team award at the Solicitors’ Journal Awards in central London last night.
The team described as a ‘market-leading’ practice, and ‘justifiably the most innovative PI firm in the country’, according to independent directory the Legal 500, collected their award at the annual ceremony which was this year hosted by Andrew Marr.
The team has spent 25 years protecting the rights of those injured at their workplace, making employers accountable for their workers’ safety, giving claimants the same level of legal advice that is available to large companies and their insurers.
In their submission, a full transcript of which is below, the team chose to highlight their work fighting for the rights of victims of the asbestos-related cancer, Mesothelioma.
Case Study:
The asbestos team at Leigh Day represents numerous individual sufferers of asbestos disease.  A number of the team’s cases have set precedents and the team has achieved the highest amount of compensation for pain and suffering awarded to victims of mesothelioma to date: Ghoorah  v- West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group & 4 Others (Lawtel/Kemp).
In addition to fighting for compensation for victims, the team has also been involved in landmark judgments challenging Government decisions which would have had an adverse impact on victims of asbestos disease all over the UK.
In July 2015, Michael Gove conceded defeat in a landmark court case over the legal fees charged to sufferers of Mesothelioma.
Harminder Bains a partner in the asbestos team, who lost her own father to the disease, represented The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (The Forum) and Mesothelioma sufferers Ian Doughty and Carole Sloper.
The case was brought after the Government implemented two pieces of legislation, which would have seen sufferers being charged £10,000 or close to it, to commence court proceedings.
It was argued on behalf of the Claimants that mesothelioma sufferers are typically of modest means. Their illness makes them disabled within the terms of the Equality Act 2010.
Invariably they will have recovered a ‘lump sum’ payment under the Pneumoconiosis Etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act, known as the PWC Act, of around £15,000; which would have meant that, provided they have a nominal amount of other capital, they will fall outside the scope of those entitled to benefit from the fee remissions scheme which is £16,000.

Their claims for damages will generally be worth somewhere in the bracket of £150,000 to £300,000 so that they would have to meet an issue fee to the Courts of £10,000 or close to it.
The Claimants argued that for mesothelioma sufferers with a limited life expectancy giving up any of their disposable capital in the last months of their lives would prevent them from pursuing a claim.
The Claimants applied to the court for permission to Judicially Review the matter on an expedited basis due to the short life expectancy of mesothelioma sufferers. Permission was granted to do so and a hearing date was set for 23 and 24 July 2015.
However, on the 2 July 2015, the Lord Chancellor agreed in a letter to ‘exclude’ from the definition of ‘disposable capital’ compensation awards made to mesothelioma sufferers under the PWC Act, the 2008 Scheme and the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
This challenge followed the landmark judgment in October 2014 overturning the decision by the UK Government to take substantial sums from mesothelioma sufferers’ damages.
The Forum brought the legal action against the Government after it announced that mesothelioma sufferers should pay up to 25% of their damages towards their own legal costs.  Such costs were previously paid by insurers.
The Forum successfully argued that by including victims of mesothelioma within the reforms in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), without a review of the likely effects on mesothelioma claims, the Government were acting unlawfully.
Finally, the team represented the Forum’s intervention in the renowned Supreme Court case of Coventry -v- Lawrence.  Upon judgment given on 22 July 2015, Doug Jewell, Chair of the Forum, stated: “This Judgment is extremely welcome.  If Claimants in mesothelioma cases were made liable for additional liabilities such as success fees and ATE premiums, the numbers who pursued claims for personal injury would have declined dramatically.  This would have resulted in families being at a financial disadvantage and could mean their spouse not only losing a partner but also seeing their income slashed.  We believe this would have been a double injustice.”

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