The Queen’s Speech this week announced a Mesothelioma Bill which is designed to compensate mesothelioma victims who cannot trace their employer who exposed them to asbestos dust or their employer’s liability insurers.
The Mesothelioma Bill will establish a payment scheme for victims who are diagnosed from 25th July 2012. The scheme will offer all victims in the UK a flat rate payout set at 70% of the average compensation received by victims who have successfully pursued their employers.
The Bill will be funded by a levy on insurance companies which provide employer’s liability and it will apply to the whole of the UK. It is expected to cost the insurance industry £300m over the next 10 years while helping more than 300 sufferers a year.
Whilst the Government and the insurance industry say that the Bill seeks to provide some form of compensation to victims who would otherwise not be compensated for this disease, campaigners are unconvinced and are calling for a careful and thorough review of the Bill.
Campaigners have a number of concerns but notably they argue that the flat rate payout set at 70% of the average compensation received by victims means that those eligible under the Bill will be denied the right to receive the full compensation they deserve, and allow the insurance industry to save a lot of money. They also say the Bill goes nowhere near to ensuring justice for all asbestos victims. Those suffering from other asbestos related diseases such as asbestosis and pleural thickening, who are unable to trace their employer or their employer’s liability insurers, are excluded from the Bill and will not receive any compensation. Furthermore, the Bill also denies compensation to mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed prior to 25th July 2012 but there is no clear explanation as to why they should not be eligible.
The scheme is set to be operational in July 2014. However the Mesothelioma Bill must be approved by Parliament before it can be implemented. Campaigners will seek to ensure that the Bill protects all mesothelioma victims; however they hope others will join their cause and voice their concerns to their MP.