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July 7, 2008

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Asbestos compensation laws approved by Lords

Hundreds of sufferers of asbestos-related mesothelioma who are not currently entitled to a lump-sum compensation payment will now qualify for damages after the House of Lords approved draft laws.

The Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008 were approved on 7 July, and set out how and when a claim must be made.

The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 currently provides lump-sum payments to sufferers of certain dust-related diseases, or their dependants, who are unable to pursue civil action because their former employers are no longer in business. However, the Act did not account for those who contracted the disease through indirect exposure, for instance, through a relative who worked with asbestos.

Earlier this year, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 extended the compensation scheme to cover any UK sufferer of mesothelioma, which may have been caused by careless removal of asbestos by workers.

The extended scheme will provide financial support to about 600 people who did not qualify under the old system. They will receive, on average, £10,000 each during the first two years of the new scheme’s operation.

To receive a payment from the Department for Work and Pensions, an individual will need to complete an application form and send proof of a diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma. Provided that a person was exposed to asbestos in the UK, and they have not already received a payment from elsewhere in respect of their mesothelioma, they will receive a payment.

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