DWF partner and head of occupational health claims Derek Adamson says: "The passing of the Mesothelioma Act has been welcomed by sufferers' support groups and those who have campaigned for a fairer system to seek compensation for this type of long-term industrial disease claim. However from an employers' and their insurers' perspective, it is disappointing there has been little progress on claims process reforms aimed at accelerating settlements and reducing the legal costs of pursuing such claims.
"From our experience in the insurance sector, we know that the majority of EL insurers will have exposure to mesothelioma claims from long-tail liabilities dating back 40 to 50 years when the UK's economic landscape relied on heavy industrial output. Though many of those primary industries are in decline, we are seeing a rise in claimants from lighter industries where exposures were not so severe but enough to increase the risk of developing mesothelioma.
"The decision to move again the final compensation figure offered by the Scheme from 75% to 80% was taken without consulting the insurance industry but the Government regarded this amount as feasible within the agreed 3% levy that would be placed on EL insurers. This amount will now remain static within the Scheme for the next four years. After that time, the 80% figure will be reviewed alongside the performance of the Scheme generally. The levy itself will be actively managed and reviewed for each year of the first four years.
"We believe that the Government should now look again at the processes and costs involved in handling mesothelioma claims outside the new Scheme and find ways of speeding up mesothelioma claims process reforms. We need to ensure that those claims can be dealt with in new ways designed to ensure fair resolutions through processes which are both quicker and more costs effective than current ones which risk becoming over-burdened by lengthy procedures and escalating costs which are ultimately detrimental for legitimate claimants wanting to reach a prompt and fair resolution."