Swindon solicitor, Brigitte Chandler, one of the UK’s most prominent campaigners for asbestos victims, has given a guarded welcome to last night’s decision in the House of Commons to set up a fund of ‘last resort’ for people who cannot claim compensation through the courts.
The Mesothelioma Bill had its third and final reading in the House of Commons last night and will now go to the House of Lords where there will be one final chance to table amendments before it becomes law.
Brigitte Chandler, of Swindon law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall says the fund will compensate victims of asbestos where their employer has ceased trading and no trace of insurance liability can be found.
However, the fund will only be available to claimants diagnosed with mesothelioma after 25th July 2012 – excluding many of the clients Brigitte Chandler is representing.
“The Bill is long overdue and is to be welcomed although it only provides for a fraction of the compensation that a successful claimant might obtain through the courts,” she said. “It is not the fault of claimants that insurance companies have failed to keep proper records.
It is estimated that mesothelioma sufferers have lost £800 million in compensation as a result of untraced insurance.
The Government had proposed that payments from the fund be fixed according to the claimant’s age and should equate to 70 per cent of the average value of claims that are pursued through the courts successfully.
But following representations from lawyers such as Brigitte Chandler, MPs of various political persuasion and trade unions, the percentage was last night increased to 75 per cent of the average court award.
The Bill still has some details awaiting clarification. The claimant will have to prove that his or her employer was negligent before any payment can be made; it does not say who should run the scheme and there is concern that the insurance industry, which will fund pay-outs under the Scheme, should not be left to police the scheme itself.
For further information contact Brigitte Chandler on 01793-511055 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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