Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, Thompsons Solicitors senior partner, has welcomed indications that Westminster will shortly address the right to compensation to victims of the asbestos related condition pleural plaques in England and Wales.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw will make an announcement on pleural plaques after the Easter break, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told the Commons during question time.
Claimant solicitors and trade unions in England are seeking to reverse the House of Lords ruling in 2007 in the Rothwell case that plaques did not constitute an injury for which compensation could be awarded.
“Asbestosis is a terrible disease, and all those who suffer from it deserve the best of help from the public authorities,” the prime minister said.
“It is right that we look again at this as a result of legal actions that have been taken about the obligations of insurance companies.”
The Scottish Government has already nullified the effect of Rothwell in Scotland by passing the Damages (Asbestos-related conditions) (Scotland) Bill on 11 March 2009 which ensures that the infamous House of Lords judgement denying pleural plaques sufferers the right to compensation will not have effect in Scotland.
The legislation is currently awaiting Royal Assent to be granted within the next few days.
Mr Maguire who represents the majority of pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland, who was instrumental in the campaign in Scotland alongside Clydeside Action on Asbestos and Unite the Union, said: “It is clearly unacceptable that Scottish victims have a right to compensation while those with the same condition in England and Wales do not.
“The sooner the Scottish legislation can be enshrined in UK law the better.”
Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons in England and Wales, said that although the Prime Minister’s announcement meant a further wait for thousands of pleural plaques sufferers, it marked another step forward in the campaign to secure compensation to those with the condition.
McFall said the prime minister’s comments came only a few weeks after a vote in the Scottish parliament ensured that pleural plaques sufferers north of the border will be able to continue to claim compensation.
"People harmed by asbestos in England, Wales and Northern Ireland suffer no less than those in Scotland," he said.
"Many were employed in the same industries and some even worked for the same employer as their counterparts in Scotland. It cannot be right that people here continue to be deprived of a legal remedy."Time for England to follow Scotland’s lead on pleural plaques