Mesothelioma Claims: Consultation Begins...
On 25 July 2006 the Compensation Act came into force. The Act ensures mesothelioma claimants can more easily recover the full 100% of compensation that is due to them by overturning the decision of the House of Lords in Barker v Corus. The House of Lords said that each employer should only pay a fraction of the compensation, according to period of asbestos exposure for which they were responsible. This threatened to delay and also to reduce compensation payments to mesothelioma victims. The Compensation Act instead says that each employer must pay compensation in full. Employers can ask for contributions from other employers but it is the employers and their insurers, not the mesothelioma victims, who bear any shortfall.
The Act makes further improvements. Before the Act the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) could sometimes make payments to mesothelioma victims, reducing the amount that employers and their insurers pay. The FSCS would only make payments where one of the relevant insurers was insolvent and where no one had yet paid full compensation to the mesothelioma claimant. This had the effect of causing great delay in some case. The effect of the Compensation Act is to allow insurers to pay compensation to mesothelioma victims first and then to claim a repayment from the FSCS afterwards. The Government hopes that this small change will remove one further obstacle in achieving speedy payments in mesothelioma claims.
The Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) today (22 September) began their joint consultation on the rules that are needed to bring this change into force by holding a meeting with a number of interested groups. The consultation process is due to end on 6 October.
"This meeting marks the beginning of an intense process of consultation to improve the way that mesothelioma claims are resolved. Today's meeting dealt with a very narrow issue: do the proposed rules achieve the desired effect of removing one particular stumbling block. With some very minor amendment, I think they do. But this was also an opportunity for us, who represent mesothelioma claimants, to meet and find some common ground with the insurers who ultimately pay the compensation. There was considerable agreement, for instance, that the FSCS should pay its share of compensation in full, rather than paying only 90% as at present. For the insurers there is very little benefit in the present arrangement, if any, but for the victims that shortfall is unfair and unjust."
The Government is presently consulting on a range of issues relating to mesothelioma claims. Andrew Morgan says:
"Fieldfisher will be taking an active part in shaping the future for the handling of mesothelioma claims, as we have done in the past. We will continue to help the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and we will bringing our own considerable expertise to bear to help articulate the voice of the victims."
For more information contact Andrew Morgan (020 7861 4036) Fieldfisher