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Hope over asbestos claims fund
Thursday 12 July 2012 by John Hyde
Time is running out for the government to meet its self-imposed deadline to create a contingency fund for asbestos-related disease claims.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly told the House of Commons last week he hoped to make an announcement before the summer recess, which begins next Wednesday.
Campaigners want the government to confirm the launch of an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau, funded by the insurance industry, for claimants who cannot trace their former employer’s insurer.
The Association of British Insurers confirmed to the Gazette it has held talks with the Department for Work and Pensions, which would oversee the ELIB, ahead of a possible announcement. The scheme was first proposed following a DWP consultation in April 2010.
Karl Tonks, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said it was now impossible to argue against a fund of last resort scheme. ‘Based upon what is moral and right it seems to me there’s a very powerful argument and I’m optimistic the government will see the force of it,’ he said.
‘It’s the worst feeling as a lawyer to tell someone they have a valid claim but we can’t proceed because we can’t trace the insurer.’ Up to 10% of asbestos-related disease claims involve cases where the employer’s insurer cannot be traced. In 2010 the DWP estimated that more than 3,000 people had missed out on compensation because the insurer could not be traced.
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