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A Narrow Escape for Industrial Disease Victims

The rumour was confirmed last week.  The House of Lords has voted for industrial disease claims to be exempt from reforms to no win, no fee litigation. In effect Industrial disease cases will now be exempt from the Jacksons reforms.

Under the amendment, Industrial Disease Claimants would keep 100% of their damages whilst defendants would pay their After The Event Insurance premium and lawyer’s success fee. The House of Lords agreed that these claimants have suffered enough, their claims are serious and real - they are "true victims”, and it would be unfair to expect these Claimants to lose some of their damages. After all, industrial diseases affect those that have worked long and hard to contribute to the British economy.

Hmmm… So what about other innocent victims who have their lives shattered as a result someone else’s negligence? Why would it be fair to allow them to have their damages deducted to pay for their solicitors’ success fees and ATE Insurance premiums? In essence, if your life expectancy has been reduced by a negligent employer exposing you to asbestos you are entitled to claim 100% of your damages back. However, if you have suffered serious injury as a result of lack of safety measures in the work place you’ll pay a deduction. The amendment is obviously good news for victims of industrial disease, but it doesn’t go far enough in allowing fair access to justice. Let’s just hope that the government doesn’t overturn these important amendments when the debate returns to the House of Commons.

It appears however, that it is not all good news for this exempt group, as the House of Lords refused to grant an exemption to trade unions and charities from the referral fee ban, which means many charitable organisations set up for asbestosis and other industrial disease victims will struggle for funds. The criminalisation of referral fees and whether portal costs should be reduced, is to be thrashed out in the Commons next week… so let’s wait and see … since industrial disease claims were exempt from the reforms, perhaps there is glimmer of hope for the rest of Britain’s innocent victims.

Watch this space….!

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