Pleural plaques victims frustrated by a 2007 House of Lords decision on compensation can now claim £5,000 from the government if they lodged a claim before the ruling.

The Pleural Plaques Former Claimants Payment Scheme opened yesterday for applications, which must be lodged before 1 August 2011.

In 2007, the law lords upheld a Court of Appeal decision that the existence of asbestos-related pleural plaques, a thickening of the lungs, does not constitute actionable or compensatable damage. In late February this year, the Labour government said that it had no intention of legislating to make pleural plaques actionable.

The coalition government yesterday confirmed that it will not seek to legislate on pleural plaques, and announced that the extra-statutory scheme will go ahead as planned.

In a debate on the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) Bill in March, Lord Henley, Baroness Quin and Lord Carswell called for a clampdown on legal fees paid under the scheme. The bill was not passed before parliament was dissolved.

At the time, Henley said of the scheme: ‘I am sure that ministers… do not want to line the pockets of lawyers at the expense of the people suffering from pleural plaques… I am assuming that it will be relatively easy for a claimant under the scheme to present a claim and that they will not need advice to do so, but that will not stop aggressive marketing in the media and [on] the internet by claims farmers.’

Details about eligibility for the scheme can be found here.