June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund (JHMRF) has joined other charities in a protest to the government about a review of legal costs and other issues surrounding compensation claims ahead of next week’s meeting with the minister. The full text of the letter, submitted to the Times, is as follows:
We, the undersigned charities, are dedicated to the care and support of mesothelioma sufferers and their families. Mesothelioma is a fatal tumour caused by exposure to asbestos, causing very distressing symptoms with a very poor prognosis. Inevitably, claims for compensation, and even for benefits, increase the stress experienced by patients and their families. For that reason, Parliament suspended the imposition of certain legal costs in personal injury claims on mesothelioma sufferers pending a review, considering it wrong to ask claimants with such a short life expectancy to ‘shop around’ for the best deal on legal costs.
We are therefore extremely dismayed that the review is to be conducted within the Ministry of Justice consultation Reforming Mesothelioma Claims, which exclusively incorporates proposals developed and drafted by the Association of British Insurers. A request to include an option for reform supported by the charities below was rejected by the Minister, Helen Grant. Concerns about inadequate and possibly misleading data used in the consultation impact assessment were dismissed, and requests for the data to allow expert analysis by statisticians have been refused.
Mesothelioma sufferers have been the victims of relentless legal challenges by insurers, intent on limiting their liability to pay compensation. Mesothelioma sufferers, and their families, can have no confidence in a consultation informed wholly by the ABI’s agenda. We are calling on the Minister to abandon this partisan consultation which disadvantages mesothelioma sufferers and instead, to arrange an opportunity for the defendant and claimant community to develop a positive agenda for reform. Surely, mesothelioma sufferers deserve nothing less.
Tony Whitston: Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum
Liz Darlison: Mesothelioma UK
Kimberley Stubbs: June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund
Chris Knighton: Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund