The Law Society Gazette – MoJ cancels plans for meso fixed-fee regime

The government has shelved plans for a fixed-fee portal for mesothelioma claims – but will bring them in line with the Jackson reforms.

The Ministry of Justice today confirmed it will not go ahead with a proposed new set of rules to control out-of-court settlements. Proposals to set standardised payments for lawyers making claims will also be binned.

But from July 2014 the department will bring mesothelioma claims into line with the changes enacted in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

This will mean claimants will no longer enjoy the recoverability of success fee and after-the-event insurance premiums from losing defendants, the same rules that apply to other personal injury claims.

The decisions follow a 10-week consultation that ended on 2 October. The government says it will now work with victims’ groups and insurers representing employers to explore new ways to improve the legal process for claims involving industrial disease.

Courts minister Shailesh Vara (pictured) said: ‘Mesothelioma is an awful condition which can destroy lives in a frighteningly short amount of time and we want to do everything we can to help sufferers and their families.

‘We will be working closely with victims, their representatives, insurers and others over the next few months to establish the best way to get claims settled fairly and quickly.’

The government has confirmed the insurance industry is considering whether to go ahead with a consultation proposal to set up an electronic case management system for mesothelioma claims.

Insurers have already promised to establish a £350m fund to compensate those who cannot trace the liable employer, which is part of the Mesothelioma Bill currently progressing through parliament.

Around 2,200 people die from mesothelioma in the UK each year. The symptoms often develop 30 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos.

Sufferers have an average life expectancy of less than nine months once diagnosed.

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