Friday, 5 April 2013

New Legislation Affecting Asbestos Disease Sufferers


A message from Richard (National Asbestos Helpline)

New Legislation Affecting Asbestos Disease Sufferers

From April 1st 2013, asbestos disease sufferers (excluding those with Mesothelioma) making a civil claim could face losing a proportion of their compensation as solicitors now have the ability to deduct up to 25% of general damages in line with new legislation.
As I explained last year to members of the SWMSG at Derriford, this new legislation is not aimed at penalising claimants or increasing solicitor income. The legislation is a response to calls from UK insurers wishing to limit their exposure.
To reduce the effect of claim deductions and to protect claimants, general damages have now been increased by 10%. There are other complexities involved which also ensure solicitors are limited in claimant deductions. I am sure that the legislation actually aims to afford an equitable outcome for all, however convoluted.
Points to remember for anyone wishing to make civil claims, or, discuss a civil claim from April onwards:
1. Please ask your solicitor to confirm how your case is being funded and how your are protected - ideally through a standard No Win, No Fee agreement.
2. Please ask your solicitor to confirm any deductions they wish to make (as a percentage)
3. Please ask your solicitor to confirm their recommended uplift/success fee (as a percentage) which is affected by the risk associated with running your claim. This figure may also affect your deductions.
4. Please ask your solicitor to confirm their charges and any other charges you will be directly liable for.
This is fresh legislation, it's effect and the management of change within the legal industry is ongoing, many law firms still in discussion with regard to their claimant deduction strategies. Therefore it pays for claimants and their families to be armed with the facts:
1. Only your general damages are affected by deductions. Please ask your solicitor to explain how this may affect you.
2. All general damages have automatically been increased by 10%.
3. Solicitors can deduct up to 25% of your general damages. Some may deduct less, some may deduct the full 25%. This is capped for your protection - please ask your solicitor to confirm their charges.
4. Any deductions taken from your general damages cannot exceed 100% of the solicitors costs. i.e. 25% of £100,000 general damages (£25,000) cannot be deducted if the solicitors costs are originally £10,000.
Our advice is to seek clarity from solicitors when pursuing a claim. They themselves are somewhat in a state of flux at the moment, therefore extra vigilance and attention is clearly the order the day.
Any questions regarding new legislation, please call the NAH for free advice on 0800 043 6635.

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