13th November 2012

The very bad effects that asbestos exposure can have on health often do not come to light for many years, or even decades after the exposure has taken place. This causes practical difficulties sometimes. For instance, it may be that the company which employed the person injured by exposure to asbestos has gone out of business and no insurer for the company can be traced.

After a long wait the Government has decided to set up a fund of last resort for workers who cannot claim compensation because insurers cannot be traced.

“50 per cent of asbestos caused illnesses are not included in the new fund.”

The fund applies to cases with a start date of 25th June 2012 – in other words you can apply if you are diagnosed on or after that date. Unfortunately it applies only to claimants who are diagnosed with mesothelioma. 50 per cent of asbestos caused illnesses are not included in the new fund. Illnesses such as asbestosis, pleural thickening or asbestos related lung cancer all are excluded.

Many commentators think the new scheme is badly limited in its scope and that this is disappointing especially given that the Government has waited 2 years after the consultation period about the fund ran out before announcing its implementation.

There will be yet further delay before any payments are made because legislation is needed to put the fund into effect.

Details of the fund can be found on the DWP website.
The final workings of the fund are not yet clear although the Government has said that it understands the need for urgency in bringing the fund into operation.

It is also the case that for some companies that have ceased to exist there are alternative compensation schemes which again will compensate in the right circumstances not only for mesothelioma but for other asbestos related conditions.

Where a company which exposed employees to asbestos still exists, or an insurer can be found for such a company which has gone out of business then civil court proceedings to obtain compensation can proceed in the usual way. In such cases it is possible to seek compensation for some asbestos related diseased other than mesothelioma – the access to possible compensation is less limited than under the new fund.