Will the Government Scrap Recoverability Exemption for Mesothelioma Cases?
By Helen Childs. 10th Febuary 2014
Opposition MPs fight Ministry of Justice over their future plans to scrap recoverability exemption for mesothelioma claims and bring them under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO).
The Ministry of Justice plan to remove recoverability of success fees and after-the-event insurance for mesothelioma cases to bring them in line with other personal injury cases.
Last April the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) act came into force and stopped the recoverability of success fees and after-the-event insurance for solicitors in all personal injury cases except mesothelioma cases.
In January this year, this exemption was revoked by the Ministry of Justice so that mesothelioma cases will be included in LASPO from July 2014.
The Justice Minister said there was not enough justification for mesothelioma cases to be managed differently from other personal injury and fatal claims.
MPs oppose the move by the MoJ
Opposition MPs and indeed MPs from all sides of the House immediately opposed the move stating there has not been enough time for the Ministry of Justice to carry out a full review of the likely effect of the change as is required under section 48 of LASPO. They criticised the MoJ for not publishing a report and for linking the change to the Mesothelioma Bill. The Justice Minister said the report would be published and they have met the requirements of section 48. The plan is to introduce the reforms from this summer.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers have also joined the MPs in supporting to keep the exemption from LASPO.
This possible change in law does not seem fair when mesothelioma victims have developed the deadly disease because of previous hard work in shipyards or industry.
There are various arguments against the reform. No-one can tell how much solicitors will charge clients under LASPO – in some cases solicitors may choose not to take on difficult cases without success fees. Most mesothelioma cases are complex and require the experience and tenacity of a specialist solicitor – it is not something that can be undertaken by the mesothelioma victim or members of their family.
Changing the exemption ruling for asbestos cases will result in some cases not being taken on due to the possible large costs incurred by the solicitor. In this instance the mesothelioma victim would not have a chance to receive compensation which otherwise would ensure future financial security for their family. The other scenario is that the mesothelioma victim pays for the services of the solicitor out of their compensation lessening the financial settlement for themselves and family.
The Ministry of Justice seem unmoved by these pleas and it looks like the abolishment of success fees will come into place in July 2014.
In view of these possible changes it is imperative to start any claims for mesothelioma as soon as possible to avoid any financial costs due to these future legal reforms.
We will keep you informed of any future debates regarding this but in the meantime mesothelioma victims do not have to pay for our solicitor's services and will receive 100% of any compensation awarded.
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Helen is our lead solicitor and a partner at Royds Withy King Solicitors. Helen is recognised as a Leading Lawyer by the Legal 500, where she is described as an exceptional partner with a huge capacity for work and an unerring willingness to fight for her clients and an excellent knowledge of asbestos litigation.. Read more >