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This note provides an overview of civil court claims for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the protective lining of the lungs or abdomen. At present, there is no known cure for mesothelioma and sufferers often die within months of diagnosis.

A mesothelioma sufferer may be able to make a claim for damages (compensation) in the civil courts based on the employer’s negligence or breach of statutory duty. Provisions in the Compensation Act 2006 reverse the effect of a decision by the House of Lords in the case of Barker v Corus UK Plc and others. This means that where a mesothelioma sufferer has been negligently exposed to asbestos by more than one employer, and it cannot be established where and when they were exposed to the ‘fatal’ fibre, then, in relevant circumstances, any one employer could be pursued for full compensation. In certain circumstances claimants other than employees are able to bring a successful claim.

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) reformed civil litigation funding for most types of civil claim by removing the recoverability from the losing party of Conditional Fee Agreement success fees and after the event insurance premiums. The changes were not to apply to mesothelioma claims until the Government had conducted a review as required by LASPO. In 2014, the Government’s decision to extend these reforms to mesothelioma claims was judicially reviewed, and the High Court found that the Government had not consulted in the way required by LASPO.

A fresh review will take place as part of the wider Post Implementation Review of the reforms introduced under Part 2 of the Act. That review will take place ‘towards the end’ of the period April 2016 to April 2018.

Other Library briefings on asbestos and mesothelioma payments can be found on the Industrial Health and Safety subject page of the Parliament website.

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