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High Court quashes government plans for mesothelioma victims to pay legal costs

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK have contested a decision by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to remove an exemption from mesothelioma victims to pay legal costs in their claims. Under the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act personal injury claimants can be charged up to 25% of their damages to pay for lawyers success fees. Mesothelioma cases were left out of those rules.

The amendment to that Act requires the government to carry out and publish "a full review" before applying such fees to mesothelioma sufferers. Following a consultation "Reforming Mesothelioma Claims" between July and October 2013 the government argued that they had carried out the required review and planned to amend the law so that mesothelioma victims would no longer be exempted from paying legal costs out of their damages.

At a judicial review of that decision by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups in the High Court Mr Justice Davis agreed that a proper review had not taken place and the government had not acted reasonably in attempting to change the law for mesothelioma victims.

Peter Williams, Head of Asbestos Claims at Fieldfisher solicitors, experts in mesothelioma cases, says "The attempted change in the law has been shown as a stitch up between the government and the insurance industry who were consulted extensively about the proposed changes when claimant groups were not. This judgment enables mesothelioma victims to continue to receive their full damages without having to pay success fees to their lawyers or insurance premiums".