High Court says asbestos legal fee ruling “unlawful”

6th October 2014

The High Court has ruled that it is unlawful to allow legal fees to be deducted from asbestos victims’ damages.

People suffering from mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, often attend court in the hope of winning damages and taking legal action against their former employer or its insurance company. However, in 2013, changes to the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) meant that the person making the claim was now responsible for paying the legal costs, not the losing party, reports morningstaronline.co.uk.

Asbestos victims were made exempt from the new rules until a proper review on what effect the act would have on sufferers took place. Although the review was conducted last year, in early 2014 a report stated that the government should start its review again, as its previous one was found to be “maladroit and unsatisfactory.”

The Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK took legal action against the government, and the honourable Mr Justice William Davis concluded that a proper review of the act – and the effect that the rules would have on mesothelioma victims – had not been conducted.

Speaking to bbc.co.uk, Doug Jewell from the Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK expressed his happiness: “This lifts the burden of fear from thousands of mesothelioma sufferers. People ask about legal action because they want to look after their families after they’ve died, but they’re scared by the legal fees.

“Now they’re told they’re safe, it won’t cost you anything, and they can take action and provide for their families.”