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Compensation Act 2006

The unfortunate House of Lords ruling on 13th May 2006 meant that
mesothelioma & asbestosis sufferers were limited to a percentage of
compensation only from their last employer who was still in business.
The Government's amendment bring welcome relief to sufferers and
removes an unjust anomaly.

The following article was written by Jez Brooke of Ashton Mortom Slack solicitors. For further information call 0114 228 6181

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and can lie
dormant for 15 to 60 years. However, the prognosis for sufferers is
usually less than 24 months.

Although the disease kills around 3,500 a year it is still relatively unheard
of within the UK. However, it has recently been a regular fixture in
newspapers; on 13 May 2006 many sufferers, widows and families
awaited a decision by the House of Lords that would offer some small
comfort that families would be compensated fairly.

Many claimants were exposed to the harmful effects of inhalation of
asbestos fibre and dust by more than one employer, many of whom
have now gone out of business. This makes it extremely difficult to trace
a relevant employers’ liability insurer. The House of Lords’ decision did
not offer any comfort and its effect was to remove the claimants’
entitlement to full compensation, offering limited compensation to the
injured person from those companies who could be located. The decision
also meant that the insurers of located companies would only have to
pay compensation to the extent their negligence contributed to the risk of
the condition developing. Therefore the amount the injured person will
receive is reduced and the remaining due compensation would be to the
profit of the insurance companies.

The Government has now demonstrated a willingness to legislate in
favour of a fair system of compensation for the thousands of victims of
exposure to deadly asbestos dust, many of whom will still be unaware
of the damage it has caused. The Compensation Act 2006 received
Royal Assent on 28 July 2006 and will rectify the unfortunate situation
created by the House of Lords – asbestos victims will once again
receive full compensation.

Kim Atherton, co-ordinator of Nottingham-based ADUK, a charity set up
to offer support and help sufferers of asbestos related diseases, said:
“Our members will be relieved that the Government have resolved this
injustice very quickly.”

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