On the 24th July 2013 the Ministry of Justice published a consultation on a package of reforms to the procedures governing mesothelioma claims in England and Wales. The paper looked at reforming the way mesothelioma claims are dealt with. They proposed a method which they state will speed up claims with the introduction of a dedicated pre-action protocol for mesothelioma, which they believe will encourage more claims to be resolved quickly and efficiently without the need for litigation through the courts. They also sought views on the insurance industry’s plan to set up a secure electronic information gateway for all mesothelioma claims, including those cases which do not go through the proposed pre-action protocol or for which a liable employer cannot be traced.
We believe that the proposed protocol will not speed up straightforward claims, it will slow them down. Furthermore the proposals would lead to a deduction of success fees and insurance premiums from damages in mesothelioma claims, leaving such claimants significantly worse off than at present. In addition solicitors would become increasingly risk averse so that fewer cases would be brought that test and develop the law in this important area. A proportion of cases that are risky but winnable will simply not be brought at all, leaving fewer mesothelioma claimants with full compensation, precisely the reverse of the government’s stated intention.
We consider the Government’s proposals to be bitterly disappointing. In practical terms these proposals will undo a great deal of the work that has been done, on both sides, to support mesothelioma claimants. These proposals strip mesothelioma sufferers of their unimpeded right to issue court proceedings: no other class of litigant suffers such ignominy.
It does this Government no credit to place such proposals before the public for consultation. They must think again.
You can view the FFW response to this consultation here.