There was some welcome news given by Justice Minister Lord Faulks today (December 8), which will help speed up compensation claims for victims of the aggressive and terminal asbestos related condition, mesothelioma.
- The Ministry of Justice is working with the National Cancer Registration Service and Public Health England to speed up the process of obtaining hospital medical records.
- And HM Revenue and Customs will be given the ability to provide the work records of deceased victims to their dependants without permission from the courts.
These two changes will be brought into force at the earliest opportunity and will help provide streamlined access to important evidence necessary to the claims process.
Justice Minister Lord Faulks said: “Mesothelioma is an awful disease which can destroy lives in a frighteningly short amount of time and we want to help sufferers and their families. We are committed to finding the best way to get claims settled fairly and quickly.”
Despite announcing new measures to support mesothelioma sufferers, the Ministry of Justice has failed to say when and how it will review funding of mesothelioma claims.
In October 2014, the government lost a judicial review over its plans to subject mesothelioma cases to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012. Mesothelioma cases were given an exemption from the Act, which scrapped the recoverability of success fees and after-the-event insurance from losing defendants.
A year ago the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling tried to remove the exemption but the decision was successfully contested in the High Court. When it was passed, LASPO placed an obligation on the government to review the consequences of the new rules on mesothelioma sufferers. The Court found that the justice secretary had not properly reviewed the effects before making his decision to remove the exemption.
It was announced by Lord Faulks today that following the legal ruling, the government will not be making any changes to the law around no-win no-fee deals involving mesothelioma cases at this time. Further details of the format and timing of the review for mesothelioma claims will be disclosed in due course.