The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has criticised as “watered down Justice” the rejection of a proposed amendment to the Mesothelioma scheme.
An amendment moved to extend the compensation cap to 80% was narrowly defeated by 266 votes to 226, despite the defection of several Tory rebels.
Under the terms of the deal claimants diagnosed with the disease on or after 25 July 2012 who have been unable to trace the relevant insurer or employer, can claim payment at 75% of average civil compensation.
The payouts will be funded by a 3% levy on active employers’ liability insurers.
Several MPs including John Woodcock, the Labour MP for Barrow in Furness, criticised the bill for not going far enough and said a strong case had been made for an 80% compensation cap.
Matthew Stockwell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers slammed the deal saying mesothelioma victims would receive “watered down justice”.
“Under the scheme, mesothelioma victims will receive only 75% of the amount of compensation they would receive if they had been able to have their day in court,” he said.
“It is bad enough that victims are exposed to deadly asbestos just by turning up for work, then forced to use this scheme because insurance records are no longer around. Now they are to be penalised by losing a quarter of what the courts determine is fair redress. This is not the justice these people deserve,” he said.
Stockwell acknowledged that the scheme was a valuable first step in helping people with work-related diseases who cannot claim compensation because insurance records cannot be traced, but said it needs to go further.
“Help for mesothelioma victims in any form is crucial, and this scheme is at least a start,” he said.
“But there are many other workers affected by the heartbreaking consequences of workplace safety mismanagement. We will push the Government to keep going and work to ensure full justice is available to all those who need it”.
Siân Mullane of Gotelee Solicitors Personal Injury department commented that the decision is disappointing but nevertheless the scheme is a first step in assisting sufferers of mesothelioma. The consequences of asbestos exposure are well known and whilst, thankfully, most people do not develop mesothelioma there are many others who do develop other asbestos related diseases and who are not offered any protection under the scheme at all.
If you or a relative have been affected by asbestos exposure you can contact the Personal Injury team.