A bill that awards compensation to mesothelioma patients who cannot trace their disease to a liable company or insurer has passed the British House of Lords. Under the bill, the insurance industry will be required to pay 75% of civil compensation into a fund for mesothelioma patients. According to a Scottish newspaper, if it passes the House of Commons, the new law will award £100,000 payouts to about 300 victims every year.
“The issue of poor record-keeping in the industry has for too long prevented mesothelioma sufferers from receiving the compensatory payments due to them,” Work and Pensions Minister, Lord Freud said in a statement prior to the bill’s third reading. “The bill represents substantial progress in rectifying this injustice.”
Several amendments were added to the mesothelioma bill before it passed the House of Lords. Among them was the requirement that a mesothelioma patient must try to bring a claim against all relevant employers before he or she would be eligible to receive the government funds. Trying and failing to bring a claim against only one employer, if another exists, is not enough.
Addressing concerns about how the fund would be managed, the House of Lords voted to establish an oversight committee. The administrator will be chosen in the open-tender process, in which people making bids for the position will be open for public scrutiny. Under the bill, only people diagnosed with mesothelioma after July 25, 2012 would be eligible for compensation.
Great Britain has the highest per capita rate of mesothelioma in the world. An estimated 2,500 people – roughly the same number as in the U.S. – die of the disease annually in a region of 63.2 million people. Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers, usually in an industrial or construction setting. Great Britain’s high mesothelioma rate is believed to be influenced by the large number of homes and public buildings constructed using asbestos building materials in the post-World War II era.
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British Mesothelioma Bill Clears House of Lords