The government has decided to make payments to those who had begun, but not resolved legal claims for compensation for pleural plaques before a Law Lords ruling in October 2007.

Pleural plaques are small, localised areas of fibrosis caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, found within the pleura of the lung.

On 17 October 2007, the Law Lords upheld a Court of Appeal decision that the existence of pleural plaques does not constitute actionable or compensatable damage. The courts had previously regarded the existence of plaques themselves as damage and compensation had routinely been paid. The government consulted on the issue and received 224 responses. On the basis of medical evidence received during the course of this review, including reports from the Chief Medical Officer for England and Wales and the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, we are unable to conclude that the Law Lords decision should be overturned at this time.

However, in recognition of the unique circumstances of those who had already begun, but not resolved, a legal claim for compensation before the Law Lords ruling, the government has decided to make one-off payments of £5,000 to people in that category. The scheme will apply in England and Wales.

We will be contacting all clients in the next few days to inform them of this development.