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Victims of pleural plaques developed as a result of exposure to asbestos in England and Wales are now eligible to claim £5000 compensation from the government, providing any previous compensation claims they have made have not been resolved.

Pleural plaques are small areas of thickening on the membrane covering the lungs, caused by inhaling asbestos fibres. They can be an indicator that the person suffering from them may be more likely to develop a condition such as mesothelioma in the future.

The Pleural Plaques Former Claimants Payment Scheme opened on the 2nd of August and will now allow claimants who made or initiated a claim for compensation before the 17th October 2007 to apply to the scheme.

This date is significant because on the 17th October 2007, the Law Lords upheld a Court of Appeal decision that the existence of pleural plaques does not mean those suffering from them could take action to receive compensation under the civil law. The current coalition government have decided not to legislate against this ruling.

‘The situation in Scotland is different. The Damages (Asbestos-related conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009 reverses the House of Lords ruling which, although not binding in Scots Law, would have been extremely persuasive in the Scottish courts.  This Act is currently subject to judicial review on human rights grounds by a number of insurance companies who take the view that this Act is not good law.   An appeal by the insurers took place in July of this year and the decision of the Inner House of the Court of Session is currently awaited.  In the meantime, the cases of all those victims suffering from pleural plaques, as a result of the negligence of their former employers, are currently on hold pending the outcome of this judicial review.’Claimants in England and Wales have until the 1st of August 2011 to apply to the scheme. 

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