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Frankly Legal - rights of asbestos sufferers and their families to claim proper financial support

The Telegraph’s legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors is an expert at winning compensation for clients and an advocate for the rights of the victims of injury and injustice.  This week he talks about how far we’ve come in securing the rights of asbestos sufferers and their families to claim proper financial support.  

The celebrations later this month to mark the 40th anniversary of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ Work-in will be a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise our shipbuilding heritage up and down the Clyde.  While there is much to celebrate, it is also a chance to think of those who have passed away or are suffering from the dark legacy of asbestos that the shipyards left behind.

In that famous speech Jimmy Reid said” It is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, with dignity and with maturity”.  For a number of those ship workers who rallied behind Jimmy’s words, the legacy of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma haunts them today.

It is our responsibility as a society that everything is done to recognise their dignity and right to justice in their battle with the dark legacy of asbestos.

In Scotland great advances have been made in recognising the right to compensation for sufferers of asbestos-related diseases and their families.  The Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) (Scotland) Act 2007 and Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 are just two examples of Scotland’s commitment to making sure that the victims and their families get the support they need to help them through such a tragic time.  Pleural plaques sufferers could also be entitled to better support if the Supreme Court next month rejects the insurance industry’s attempts to block legislation on the issue.

We have come a long way in this fight for justice.  It took some determined campaigning to make the governments of the day stand up and take notice and there will be many more campaigns to come.  But it is important to welcome that solicitors across Scotland can now say to more asbestos victims and their families than ever: “You are not alone.  You are entitled to support”. 

Forty years after Jimmy Reid's speech we can say that Scotland has achieved a more responsible, dignified and mature legal system which better respects the rights of asbestos sufferers.   

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