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Home > News > Government to publish consultation paper on compensation for Pleural Plaques

23rd June 2008

Government to publish consultation paper on compensation for pleural plaques

Since 1982, until a Court of Appeal decision in January 2006, sufferers of the asbestos-related condition pleural plaques were able to receive compensation for their anxiety and increased risk of developing potentially fatal asbestos-related diseases. As a result of a test case brought by the insurance industry, this right was ended when the House of Lords ruled in October 2007 that people with pleural plaques were no longer entitled to compensation. It is estimated that approximately £1.4 billion will be saved by the insurance industry as a result of the Law Lords' ruling.

However, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, Bridget Prentice MP, has stated that a Government consultation into the House of Lords ruling on the asbestos-related condition, pleural plaques, will begin this month and will consider options including restoring the right to compensation for pleural plaques.

On June 4th 2008, Mrs Prentice stated that the consultation period would begin very soon, and she hoped that as a result we would see serious action from the Government, who, she states, are committed to helping people with pleural plaques and asbestos-related diseases.

Further, she has stated that the Government expects to announce its decision on pleural plaques by November 2008, in time for the Queen’s speech.

People with pleural plaques tell of the worry and uncertainty that one day their condition may lead to the development of the fatal cancer mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related disease. Whilst rarely causing symptoms itself, pleural plaques is a scarring of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

MP for Barnsley West and Penistone, Mick Clapham, and MP for Blaydon, David Anderson, called in turn for the Law Lords’ decision to be reversed, and for the consultation to be quick in order that those suffering with pleural plaques would know where they stood with regard to claiming compensation. Mr Clapham urged Mrs Prentice to stress to her colleagues the need to reverse the ruling that removed the rights of pleural plaques sufferers to receive compensation, whilst Mr Anderson stated that the consultation period should be short, precise and effective.

One sufferer, Mr Frederick Hewitt, now 73, was exposed to asbestos between 1950 and 1967 when he worked first as an apprentice, then as a shipwright in the shipbuilding industry. Following an x-ray in 2004, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and has since suffered anxiety about his future health, knowing that the presence of pleural plaques signified an increased risk of developing a potentially fatal disease. His concern was heightened by the knowledge that his neighbour, who also worked in the shipyards, had died as a result of an asbestos disease.

He said he believes it is only right for the Government to step in to overturn the Law Lords decision and allow pleural plaques sufferers to claim their rightful compensation.

Clear Answers’ solicitors, Thompsons Solicitors, have been involved throughout the legal action to retain, and now the campaign to restore, the right to compensation for pleural plaques. Thompsons acted for pleural plaques sufferers in the test case in the High Court in 2004 to 2005, in the Court of appeal in 2005 to 2006 and in the House of Lords in 2007.

Ian McFall, Head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons, has called for a quick decision from the Government. He said that the previous ruling left thousands of people with pleural plaques disillusioned.

Thompsons are also currently involved in another High Court test case affecting asbestos victims. This relates to a number of mesothelioma cases where the insurers deny liability to pay compensation because they argue that the policies they sold to employers to insure against liability for workers becoming ill or injured do not cover the employer at the time the asbestos exposure occurred. This has become known as the “trigger” issue test case. If the insurers who are taking the point are successful, it will leave thousands of mesothelioma sufferers without compensation if their employer is no longer trading and no insurance is available. This would overturn decades of established insurance industry practice which has, up until now, always operated on the basis that, if the employer no longer exists, the insurer at the time of the asbestos exposure would pay the claim.

Compensation Claim

Clear Answers’ lawyers have a reputation for obtaining the maximum compensation for people who suffer from an asbestos-related disease as a result of negligence by the employer. Our teams of experts are waiting to help you, should you decide to instruct us to represent you in your claim. We will be happy to provide you with expert legal advice, to answer any questions you may have regarding your claim and to talk you through the claims process in plain English.

Please ring us on 0800 783 9019 and speak to one of our advisers if you or a family member is suffering or has suffered an asbestos-related disease. Alternatively, a representative will contact you as soon as possible, if you complete one of our on-line compensation claim forms.

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