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Government u-turn on court fees for mesothelioma claims is a welcome step, but more needs to be done for asbestos victims

Earlier this month, legal action brought by the Asbestos Victims Support Group resulted in the government deciding that individuals exposed to asbestos, and making a mesothelioma claim as a result, would be exempt from paying newly introduced court fees in certain cases.

While on the face of it this appears a victory, and hailed a ‘landmark decision’, the reality is that only a minority of those affected by this serious illness will have the newly introduced court charges waived.

The support group argued that the fees were unfair to those affected by mesothelioma, and won, or so it seems, except for the fact that most meso sufferers will not be eligible for the exemption due to a relatively low threshold.

Those with savings in excess of £16,000, excluding compensation that they would be entitled to under the Workers Compensation Act 1979, would still have to pay the levy despite the ruling.

There is much opposition to the introduction of the fees, which came into effect in March 2015, not least from the legal professionals who fight on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure to secure settlements to make life more comfortable while they live with their illness.

While the small exemption is a positive move in the right direction, more needs to be done to protect those who late in life find themselves with serious health issues through no fault of their own.

Asbestos exposure can result in a number of other illnesses that are sadly as serious as mesothelioma including asbestosis, non-malignant pleural disease and asbestos related lung cancer. Yet those with a different disease, but similar health consequences, have not been provided with any exemption from the additional court fees brought in to fund the court system.

We support a total exemption of the new levy which we believe is unfair to all those who find themselves in poor health decades after being exposed to a risk they were unaware of and watch in hope that this small victory is a stepping stone to achieving justice for all.

Recognising the symptoms of asbestos exposure

Symptoms following exposure to asbestos will often not present themselves until 30 – 40 years later and most individuals who have suffered illness as a result have been those who have been significantly exposed during the course of their work.

If you, or someone you know, may have been exposed to significant quantities of asbestos, the tell-tale signs may include:

• shortness of breath
• a persistent cough
• wheezing
• fatigue
• chest pain
• in more advanced cases, clubbed (swollen) fingertips

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice sooner rather than later. If you are sadly diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening or asbestos related lung cancer, you may be entitled to claim for compensation for your injuries.

Our team of occupational disease specialists have extensive experience in these matters and understand the upset an asbestos related diagnosis can cause both to the individual affected, and their families. Contact a member of our team for sensitive and confidential advice.

You can speak to a member of our team on 0161 835 8832. Alternatively, please email a summary of your potential claim and contact details to claire.reddicen@lindermyers.co.uk

Find out more about our Occupational Disease department

Written by Jon Andrews. Find out more about Jon here. 

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