UNITED KINGDOM: Legal victory for asbestos victims against the government

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The High Court of Justice recently judged illegal the government’s decision to use 25% of the compensation awarded to mesothelioma sufferers to cover legal insurance premiums and costs. This ruling follows the legal action brought at the end of July 2014 by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, AVSG.

In 2013, the government had reformed the legal system. The LASPO Act on legal aid transferred the burden of paying legal fees from the losing party to the plaintiff party. However, the mesothelioma victims were exempted from the new rules, pending an in-depth study of the repercussions of this Act on this particular group of plaintiffs. At the end of 2013, quite unexpectedly, the government declared that the legislation applied with no exceptions. AVSG then brought legal action against the government, citing the non-performance of said study, and they won the case.

The government, which has decided not to appeal, will have to make an exhaustive assessment of the repercussions of the Act on the compensation of asbestos victims if it wants to carry out its reform. The AVSG estimates that this will probably take three to five years.

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