‘Reforming Mesothelioma Claims’ – Justice Minister’s response

We recently reported that the Government has announced that it will not go ahead with the new mesothelioma Pre-Action Protocol or fixed fees, which were recommended by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). However, it will implement the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 for mesothelioma claims.
 
The effect will be that mesothelioma claims will be brought in line with the changes already introduced to all other personal injury cases, including other asbestos related disease claims. This means that mesothelioma victims will no longer be able to recover a success fee and insurance premium from a Defendant.
When the LASPO Act was passed, a clause was included saying that the changes to success fees and after the event (ATE) insurance would not apply to mesothelioma claims until a review had been carried out and a report published. Following the announcement at a debate in Westminster, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara defended the Government’s decision to implement the LASPO Act for mesothelioma claims advising that “the Government carried out the section 48 review as part of the consultation on reforming mesothelioma cases, which concluded on 2 October 2013”.
 
During the debate, Conservative MP Tracey Crouch and Labour MPs argued that a review has not been carried out and Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter urged the Minister to conduct another consultation.
It is very disappointing to hear such an announcement so soon after the implementation of the LASPO Act to other personal injury cases. The full effects of the LASPO Act have not yet been felt, and until such time the Government cannot properly consider the effects of the LASPO Act on mesothelioma claims. At this time, an implementation date has not yet been announced but it is proposed that the LASPO provisions will apply from July 2014.