It has been announced by the Justice Minister that sufferers of asbestos-related cancer will initially be exempt from Government changes to “no-win, no-fee” rules. The changes to no-win, no-fee in England and Wales– which are to be contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – will prevent lawyers claiming “success fees” from the losing side. Instead the Bill would “see them receive a share of the compensation given to their own client – up to a maximum of 25% of the total pay-out”.
The Government says the changes are designed to deter spurious claims but peers and campaigners say mesothelioma victims should be exempt because the illness’s severity is indisputable. The commons heard that after reflection about the special case of mesothelioma sufferers, a delay would be imposed and they would work closely with insurers and other stakeholders on this pressing issue, with a view to making an announcement on this issue by this July.
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan welcomed the concession: “The key question here is should victims of industrial diseases like mesothelioma have to hand over part of their damages to their lawyers and insurer, or should the wrongdoers fund the cost of the successful litigation?”. Mr. Khan stated that “Someone suffering this horrible disease is not making up their cancer to make a quick buck. They cannot possibly be part of the compensation culture.”
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch also welcomed the move, saying: “It is not right to put victims of an extraordinary disease, where no fraud is possible and compensation is certain, into a situation where in their last few months of life they are being forced to shop around for a lawyer in order to pay the least amount of success fees.”
Published May 14, 2012