Andrew Morgan discusses mesothelioma reforms with Post Magazine
The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation that seeks to change the way mesothelioma claims are carried out. The new proposals could possibly result in the removal of the claimant choice, lower compensation and may undermine the current effective claim system.
The introduction of a dedicated pre‑action protocol is being proposed which, insurers say, would establish quicker timescales for claims, the development of a fixed recoverable costs regime and the introduction of an electronic ‘gateway’ for a faster exchange of information.
But Andrew Morgan, partner at Field
Fisher Waterhouse, says that settling pre-litigation is not always
what claimants want:
“At the moment claimants have a choice. Some clients prefer their cases to be settled in life, while others prefer to receive an interim payment and for the case to be resolved after they die. Mesothelioma claims settled in life tend to be worth 10% to 20% less than claims concluded after death so these proposals reduce compensation and reduce the claimant’s choices.
“Second, it removes defendant lawyers from the process so insurers spend less on their own legal services. Third, it limits the amount claimants can spend on their own legal representation as this is a process designed by and to be run for the benefit of the insurers, providing cheap justice, which the victims can ill afford.”
Andrew says the Mesothelioma Fast-Track system introduced by Senior Master Whitaker in the High Court – which requires the submission of evidence in order to establish the need for an interim payment, while giving priority to cases involving severely limited life expectancy – is already working.
Andrew continues, “The Mesothelioma Fast-Track claims system has created a level of understanding and cooperation between claimant and defendant lawyers to resolve issues quickly. This process is an example of how litigation should be done; what these proposals do is rip it up completely, they undermine it.”
The consultation closes on 2 October 2013.