The High Court has ruled a Government consultation assessing restrictions on asbestos-related illness claims to be unlawful.
Following on from new measures implemented by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012, the net effect of which were, essentially, to restrict the damages received by sufferers of the asbestos-related condition Mesothelioma, the High Court has ruled that the Lord Chancellor along with the Ministry of Justice has unsuccessfully conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the reforms.
Despite backing from the Association of British Insurers, the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the issue has been declared illegal and concern was expressed about the Government’s lack of transparency surrounding how its policy had been crafted with apparent involvement by employer’s liability insurers.
Mr Justice William Davis deemed the consultation, spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice, to be inadequate and that it did not take into account the impact of the LASPO reforms on Mesothelioma claims. These reforms are alleged to reduce victim’s compensation by up to 25%, according to Tony Whiston of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK, because they take away the claimant’s ability to recover their Solicitor’s success fee (an additional element of costs when the solicitor acts on a no win no fee basis) from losing defendants, and must instead pay this out of their damages, up to a statutory maximum of 25% of past and general damages .
Asbestos related Mesothelioma is an horrific illness affecting not just the victim, but also their families. It is the writer’s view that sufferers of this condition should not have to sacrifice any amount of their compensation award in order for them to seek justice. Indeed, surely it would be fair to argue that victims and their families have suffered enough already, without having to see their financial redress unduly affected simply so that insurance companies need not foot the bill for due justice. The writer hopes that a new consultation will result from the latest High Court ruling and that it fairly and accurately assesses just how far-reaching the implications of the LASPO reforms are upon the rightful claims made by Mesothelioma sufferers.