An important piece of legislation included in the government’s Deregulation Bill 2013-14 to 2014-15, which aims to restore the disclosure of work records of a deceased mesothelioma victim without the need for a court order, has completed its passage through the House of Commons and will now go to the House of Lords for consideration.

Time is always an urgent factor whenever a case of malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed. While the Limitation Act 1980 requires that a claim for mesothelioma compensation must be brought within three years from the date of a confirmed medical diagnosis, in most cases there may only be between 4 -12 months left to enter a mesothelioma claim in a bid to ensure the future financial security of a spouse / close family members.

Crucial to examine employment history

The immediate task for an asbestosis lawyer is to trace the original employer(s) and their insurers while at the same time collecting a full and detailed medical and employment history, which often includes calling for witness evidence from former work colleagues.

For a mesothelioma solicitor to determine which employers may be liable, it is crucial to thoroughly examine a complete employment history, which lists all relevant workplaces, the length of time worked for each employer and how exposure to asbestos took place.

Throughout most of the peak period of British industrial use as insulating material between the 1940s and 1970s/80s there was often little or no asbestos awareness to the long term health risks of repeated exposure and no protective measures / equipment provided. The number of years and frequency an employee was exposed to asbestos are vital in determining the extent of each employer’s liability.

While there can sometimes be difficulties in tracing former employers / insurers who may no longer be in business and a subsequent dispute over accepting liability after a lengthy period of time, in 2013 asbestosis lawyers were faced with a new challenge. HM Revenue and Customs began enforcing a new regulation, which stated that requests for the employment history of a deceased claimant would, henceforth, only be released if a high court order had been obtained.

Increased distress for victims and their families

Inevitably, the introduction of the new measure caused serious delays and meant increased difficulties and distress for victims and their families. Following negotiations with the Ministry of Justice, a request to reverse the new regulation was given cross-government clearance to include the amendment on the Deregulation Bill, which was given a first reading at the House of Commons at the end of June.

The urgency of prolonged mesothelioma cases, despite victims often only having a short time to secure settlements, has been a long standing issue, to which the introduction of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) in July is intended to address.

In the race against time, mesothelioma patients and their families will be given vital help if the Deregulation Bill amendment is approved and lawyers are once more able to obtain a victim’s work history without the time consuming need to obtain a high court order.