Insurers and lawyers should gather evidence on the effect of the introduction of the LASPO reforms to mesothelioma claims even though last week’s High Court ruling blocked the Government’s attempts to abolish recoverability of success fees and insurance premiums in these cases, says leading occupational health lawyer.
DWF partner and head of occupational health and casualty Derek Adamson, who gave evidence at the Justice Select Committee inquiry in May this year, believes that there is no proper distinction between mesothelioma and other serious injury or disease claims on the question of implementation of the new LASPO changes. DWF believes arguments raised by claimant interest groups that mesothelioma claims are somehow different are unfounded, as post-LASPO, the same system now operates for all other types of serious injury claim, and should also do so for mesothelioma claims.
Responding to the High Court ruling, Adamson said: “Even if an appeal is lodged against last week’s High Court ruling, both insurers and defendant lawyers should carry on gathering evidence to explore the overall effects that the LASPO changes will make to mesothelioma claims. DWF strongly believes that such claims should not be ring-fenced from other serious injury or disease claims – there is simply no objective basis for doing so.
“We believe the only real effect that the introduction of LASPO would make on the current system of compensating the victims of this terrible disease is that claimant lawyers will lose revenues, and endorsing this reform is not in their financial interests. Mesothelioma claims are low risk so that if success fees need to be charged at all they ought to be very modest, while claimants themselves will gain because of the enhanced awards for pain and suffering.
“We, as a firm that is significantly involved in representing insurance clients in disease claims, call on those claimant lawyers to co-operate in agreeing a new pre-action protocol which will expedite the exchange of evidence and speed up the process where victims can be compensated quickly and efficiently. This will also help keep legal costs down and allow much needed funds to be paid more effectively to those who desperately need it.”