Last week the government announced that they will allow increased timeframes for victims of asbestos-related illness to pursue claims on a no win no fee basis, a victory. This means that forthcoming legal aid reforms will not apply to asbestos-related claims for the time being, allowing greater flexibility and choice for sufferers of mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease.
The changes to asbestos-related claims are part of the overall overhaul of personal injury law under the Legal Aid sentencing and punishing of offenders bill, due to come into force in April 2013. The increased timeframe for bringing no win no fee asbestos claims comes after months of debate regarding the issue in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
I am pleased that the government has recognised that this type of claim is different from other personal injury claims and has therefore allowed a special allowance for victims. This allows people who have been affected by asbestos exposure in the working environment to pursue their claim without needing to pay for expensive insurance policies and part of their own legal fees out of their damages.
It has been argued that these complex and highly specialised claims should be dealt with differently to other types of personal injury cases. It is clearly fair that people suffering this type of illness should be given access to legal advice and representation at no cost to them.
Although the news is widely positive, the government have indicated that there will be an end date for bringing asbestosis and mesothelioma claims under no win no fee agreements in the next few years. Victims of asbestos-related illness should be aware that changes in the law are coming and the allowance made for this sort of claim will not be indefinite. It is important, therefore, that people affected by exposure to asbestos not delay in taking action.
Farleys offer free initial consultations on industrial disease claims, during which our specialist solicitors will assess the circumstances particular to the individual case and advise clients how they are best to proceed. The majority of industrial disease and personal injury claims will be taken on on a no win no fee basis.
For more information about making a claim for asbestosis, a work related accident or a serious/complex injury, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
By Nick Molyneux, Mesothelioma Claims Solicitor