Universal Mesothelioma Compensation
If everything goes according to plan, shortly after Parliament convenes for the Autumn 2008 session, anyone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos in the UK, whether through occupational, para-occupational or environmental exposure, will be entitled to compensation from the Government. When The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill comes into force, the UK will become only the 2nd national jurisdiction to have universal mesothelioma compensation.1 While some people including MP Michael Clapham thought we would have had it (the Bill) through in a month and on the statute books,2 the legislative process has been time-consuming and painstaking involving input from HM Treasury, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Department for Social Development, Northern Ireland, Jobcentre Plus and the Scottish Office as well as other stakeholders including the Association of British Insurers, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, asbestos victims' groups and others who work on various aspects of mesothelioma treatment and/or compensation.3
The Bill, which is awaiting its report stage and third reading in the House of Lords, should receive Royal Assent by the end of May 2008;4 after that, secondary legislation will be drafted to fill in details such as amounts to be paid out to claimants. There will be a sliding scale of payments depending on individual factors including age at diagnosis. It is anticipated that the average payment will be £10,000 during the first two years of the scheme operating. In later years, the size of payments would increase as funds allow; hopefully in year three, the levels of compensation from the mesothelioma scheme will be the same as those paid out by the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979, currently averaging £19,500. The priority is to ensure that awards are paid out quickly so that claimants can have the benefit of them during their lifetimes.
A close reading of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (2007) is informative on several counts: 5
In August/September 2008, Jobcentre Plus will organize regional events to explain the new legislation to lung cancer nurses, asbestos victim support groups and other interested parties.
April 20, 2008
1 The Government of the Netherlands was the first to award lump sum payments to all mesothelioma sufferers when it adopted a scheme in October 2007.
2 Blundell H. Interview: Michael Clapham MP. APIL Newsletter Vol 18, Issue 3. March 2008.
4 Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill [As Amended in Grand Committee]