A review by the Justice Committee has criticised the initial consultation regarding the inclusion of mesothelioma claims in the LASPO reforms (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders).
The review found that the government’s consultation wasn’t even-handed or thorough enough and has recommended a further consultation be conducted to assess the viability of including mesothelioma within the LASPO reforms.
Sir Alan Beith, the chair of the committee, said:
We have concluded that the government’s approach has been unsatisfactory on a number of counts. The government was not reconciled to the concession it was forced to make in Parliament during the passage of the LASPO legislation to exempt mesothelioma cases from its provisions, and determined to review the exemption as soon as it could.
In its haste the Government failed to ensure that relevant information, such as a cost-benefit analysis of the changes, was available to interested parties.
The Justice Committee’s main criticism of the government is that it has acted before the full impact of the LASPO reforms could be fully assessed and analysed, so the recommendation is to now delay the consultation until the full effect of LASPO can be properly measured,
On top of this, the government has also been criticised for the agreement it has entered into with ABI, which lays out a framework on how mesothelioma claims should be handled. Sir Alan Beith added:
It was a surprise to us that the government concluded a heads of agreement, however informal its status, with parties on one side of the argument about mesothelioma. The provisions of this document, which remained undisclosed to other interested parties, have shaped the government’s approach to this issue, and we are concerned that the government appears to have had no intention of supplying us with this document as part of our inquiry.
James Dalton of the ABI has countered the Justice Committee’s findings, however, and stated the ABI does not regret entering into an agreement with the government. He said:
While insurers did not expose anyone to asbestos, the industry has always been open and transparent on its commitment to help as many mesothelioma claimants and their families as possible.
We make no apologies for negotiating with government a scheme, paid for by insurers, that will compensate an extra 3,000 sufferers over the next ten years, who would otherwise go uncompensated.
At Cute Injury we fully support the inclusion of mesothelioma claims to LASPO.
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