If you’ve been following the progress of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO), you will know that its main objective is to severely limit the level of legal aid which is offered by the government.
Another function of this controversial bill is to try and fight the so called ‘compensation culture’ which is prevalent in the UK. One of the suggestions in the LASPO bill is to reduce the provision for ‘no win, no fee’ claims in certain legal situations. In many cases this will mean that rather than solicitors claiming a ‘success fee’ from the losing side, this fee will now come out of the winning party’s compensation package. Though this fee will be limited to a maximum of 25% of the compensation awarded, it does represent a significant change in the way claims will be funded.
Like the legal aid cuts proposed by the LASPO bill, it is quite specific about the type of claims which will be affected by the changes. One of the areas which is currently in contention is whether mesothelioma cases will still be able to be conducted under the old ‘no win, no fee’ system.
Currently unable to make an asbestos related compensation claim
Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It has a very long latency period and, as a result, people who develop the cancer may not show any symptoms at all for up to 25 years after they were first exposed. Currently, if an individual develops this cancer later in their life due to exposure whilst working at one of their previous jobs, they are able to make an asbestos related claim against their previous employer.
Under the current system they are able to keep 100% of any compensation they’re awarded. Under the new bill this may change.
Those against the bill have argued that, in the case of mesothelioma claims, the ‘no win, no fee’ system should be preserved. Clearly, it would be very difficult for someone to illegitimately claim compensation for a cancer. If the cuts are meant to act as a deterrent for those making illegitimate claims, mesothelioma claims should be exempt.
As a result of this strong opposition and what they describe as a ‘commitment to action on this point’, the government has now ‘delayed’ the enforcement of these new measures in relation to claims of mesothelioma.