DMPS Dispute Resolution Panel Opens its Doors
Gallagher Bassett, which acts for the Administrator of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) has notified solicitors at Fieldfisher that the Employer's Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) has set up a Dispute Resolution Panel (DRP) to fulfil the function of the "Technical Committee".
The Mesothelioma Act 2014 set up the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme to make payments to people suffering from mesothelioma, and their families, in those circumstances where they have strong cases but there were no insurers. People in that position would not be able to obtain any compensation at all without the new DMPS. The DMPS started taking applications in April 2014 and started making payments to mesothelioma sufferers and their families in July 2014.
It was recognised from the very beginning that there would be cases where there was some evidence of insurance coverage, but where the evidence was inconclusive. For instance, company directors can often recall the employer's insurance arrangements and can sometimes provide documents that would persuade a Court as to the identity of an insurer, even though the insurer itself no longer has any records of the policy. In order to deal with these disputes the Mesothelioma Act 2014 provided for the Secretary of State to set up a "Technical Committee" which could decide such issues. The Technical Committee could, in effect, force an insurer to accept that they must respond to a claim even where there is no documentation. That would leave the insurer to defend the claim or to settle it or to make an offer in settlement.
The importance of the work of the Dispute Resolution Panel is that a claim that is settled at Court will usually result in a substantially larger payment than a claim that is settled through the DMPS. The DMPS makes a "tariff" payment in each successful case without reference to the details of each case (other than the sufferer's age) whilst the Court will look at the detail of each case and is free to make much larger awards where the evidence supports it.
Andrew Morgan a partner in Fieldfisher's mesothelioma team says:
We are pleased that the Dispute Resolution Panel has at last been set up, some 10 months after the DMPS started taking applications. We have a number of cases where the availability of insurance cover is in dispute. These cases been put on hold while we wait for the DRP to be set up and to start taking cases. I hope the DRP will force insurers to take responsibility for the policies that they issued and will in the future encourage insurers to decide in favour of applicants where there is doubt rather than digging their heels in, as they do at present. The alterative, equally welcome, is that the DRP will allow a claim to be made to the DMPS even if there is some evidence of insurance coverage.