The mesothelioma scheme was steered through parliament yesterday with much criticism of the terms of the scheme.  Victims who cannot trace the insurers for defunct companies will only receive 75% of their compensation.

The minister in charge,  Mike Penning was criticised but responded by saying that the scheme was pragmatic and that the insurance industry came to the negotiating table reluctantly.

The insurance industry, who took insurance premiums for employers liability insurance from virtually all firms after 1969 and for many employers well before this date have long since dragged their feet in providing a scheme to compensate victims where the insurance details cannot be traced.  This has saved them hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.

The new scheme will start paying victims and their families in July 2014 although it had been hoped this would have started in spring 2014.

The insurance industry had hoped to make all mesothelioma claims proceed via a portal under a fixed legal fee arrangement in order to save money and costs. However following a consultation with the ministry of Justice this idea was shelved.

Steven Evans, Partner and Head of the asbestos department said

“This new scheme will help a small albeit important number of mesothelioma victims and their families who otherwise would receive no compensation.  It seems though, that these victims will still have to prove they were exposed at work and will have to make exhaustive enquiries as to the identity of the insurance companies before they will be eligible to submit a claim under the scheme.   Due to convoluted English Law a compensation claim often has a higher value once the victim has died. This puts them in the terrible position of having to decide to take less money now, or let relatives finish the claim after they die, akin to a tasteless game show.  The government should legislate that living victims receive the full value of their claim in their lifetime so they are not put in this grim position.

Whilst the scheme for untraced insurers is a step in the right direction, there are still innumerable hurdles being placed in the path of victims and families (including the new procedure to obtain employment schedules from the HMRC once a victim has passed away).  Furthermore, I fail to understand why the scheme was not extended to include victims of asbestos related lung cancer and other conditions.”

If you require further information about the scheme or mesothelioma compensation please do not hesitate to contact Steven Evans at WE Solicitors on 0800 294 3065