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Thompsons Solicitors have welcomed new laws which will end lengthy legal wrangling over damages claims.

Labour MSP Bill Butler’s Damages (Scotland) Bill, which improves rights to compensation in respect of personal injuries and wrongful death, was passed by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday March 3 .

The bill overhauls the current system and provides a fair level of compensation in cases of wrongful death without the need for unnecessarily long and distressing court cases.

The changes will benefits hundreds of people across Scotland each year. On average, 30 people die each year in Scotland in workplace accidents. Between 1st January 2009 and 20th April 2010, 210 people with mesothelioma and 58 people with asbestos-related lung cancer sought assistance from ‘Clydeside Action on Asbestos.’

Mr Butler said: “Today the Scottish Parliament has shown that it is on the side of victims and their loved ones.

We can act now to speed up the legal process and ensure that people who have suffered the tragic death of a loved one can begin to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible without having to endure lengthy legal cases.

The victory was warmly welcomed by victims’ campaigners.

Joe O’Neill, Treasurer of Clydebank Asbestos Group said: “Protracted legal proceedings have placed unnecessary strain on families and I am pleased that these changes ensure that justice can now be accessed as quickly as possible.”

Annette Smith, of Clydeside Action on Asbestos said: “We have backed these proposals from the outset and this act will be of very real benefit to hundreds of people each year.”

Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors, who helped draft the new Act said: “I am delighted MSPs have passed this important piece of legislation.

“It sweeps away what has, up till now, been the law’s anachronistic and sexist view of society, based on an outdated stereo-type of the man as the breadwinner and the woman as the housewife.

“The new legislation also means families will no longer have details of their income and expenditure scruitinised and argued over in court in their darkest hour.

“Not only was that degrading and stressful, it often resulted in a ruling that the deceased’s family suffered little or no loss because it took into account the surviving partner’s income.

“The new Act clarifies, simplifies and modernises the law of damages for wrongful death.  It is a positive step forward for victims and their families and Bill Butler is to be congratulated for introducing the legislation and helping steer it through Parliament.

“It is also a tesimony to the Scottish Parliamentary system which means that, as in this case, it only takes one MSP to identify an issue, to set in train the legal process to change the law.

“In Westminster MPs have to win a ballot for the right to insitigate legislation.”

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