Who? Harminder Bains, personal injury and mesothelioma partner at London firm Leigh Day.
Why is she in the news? Helped the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK win a High Court challenge to government plans to reduce payments to mesothelioma sufferers. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
The court ruled that justice secretary Chris Grayling’s decision to subject the claims of mesothelioma victims to the provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act, so that claimants would be charged up to 25% of their damages for costs normally met by insurers, was unlawful. It further found that Grayling had not properly reviewed the likely effects of LASPO on sufferers.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘It remains our view that the MoJ review of this issue was conducted fully and openly and we are disappointed with this judgment. We will now consider our next steps.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘The forum was fighting against the government and the entire insurance industry, a modern day David verses two Goliaths. Its successful legal action has prevented dying victims of mesothelioma from having to pay legal costs which have previously been paid by the losing party, most usually the employer or the insurance companies.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted to become a nurse, but during training I fell over in the snow after a snowball fight. While convalescing I read my brother’s copy of Winfield & Jolowicz on Tort and decided to become a lawyer.’
Career high: ‘Helping to expose what I believe to be the real motives behind the insurance industry’s numerous proposals to change the way mesothelioma claims are handled. While the insurance industry always dresses this up as “reform”, its proposals have invariably been designed to make it harder for sufferers to obtain justice from negligent employers and their insurers, who were paid premiums to accept the risks.’
Career low: ‘I’d had a client’s husband imprisoned for removing his child from the UK. Upon his release, he threatened me with a machete.’