The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) has had a detrimental impact on many asbestos victims seeking compensation from a ‘defendant’ (e.g. a former employer).

The victim’s solicitor can no longer recover a ‘success fee’ from the defendant. Solicitors must either forgo a fee, or as is often the case, deduct their fee from their client’s compensation. The fee can be as much as 25% of the client’s compensation.

Solicitors take out ‘After the Event’ insurance to protect victims against potential legal costs should the case be lost. Under LASPO, the cost of this insurance must now be paid by the victim (i.e. from their compensation when the case is won), instead of by the defendant.

These changes currently apply to asbestos victims with lung cancer, pleural thickening, and asbestosis. Victims with mesothelioma are exempt, for now, thanks partly to the efforts of the Forum.

The changes mean many asbestos victims, when they win their case, receive less in compensation.

Furthermore, many asbestos victims will choose not to pursue their case, in the belief that they will receive little in the way of compensation.

Sections 44 and 46 of LASPO act as a further barrier to justice for asbestos victims already facing an uphill struggle.

We believe that asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and diffuse pleural thickening should be treated in the same way as mesothelioma and exempted from Sections 44 and 46 of LASPO.

In 2020, the Forum launched a legal challenge of what we a see as a superficial review of the impact of Part 2 of LASPO, a review which we believe did not involve sufficient consultation. This review, if not challenged, would help hide the detrimental impact LASPO has had on many asbestos victims. See here for more information.