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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 00:11 GMT
Asbestos law plans backed by MSPs
Diseased lung
Mesothelioma causes damage to the lungs
MSPs have backed changes in the law to help asbestos-related cancer sufferers claim compensation.

The Scottish Executive introduced new measures in December to end the dilemma facing mesothelioma victims.

They were forced to choose between claiming damages for themselves or waiting so that relatives could possibly claim more after their death.

The Holyrood committee scrutinising the bill recommended that MSPs back it when it goes before parliament.

Sufferers have been able to lodge compensation claims since 20 December even though the Mesothelioma Damages Bill is not yet law.

In an unprecedented move, Deputy Justice Minister Johann Lamont announced at the committee's meeting on 13 December that the bill would be amended to enable sufferers to benefit from its provisions a week later.

The legislation will remove the dilemma faced by mesothelioma sufferers, enabling both the sufferer and their family to receive fair recompense
Pauline McNeill
Justice 1 Committee convener

Sufferers have, from diagnosis, an average life expectancy of just 14 months.

The bill will allow both the sufferer and their families to seek benefits.

The convener of the Justice 1 Committee, Pauline McNeill, said: "The legislation will remove the dilemma faced by mesothelioma sufferers, enabling both the sufferer and their family to receive fair recompense.

"In considering the bill, the committee learned of the significant number of mesothelioma sufferers who had been postponing settling their claims so that they would be able to benefit from the terms of the legislation.

"Witnesses representing mesothelioma sufferers argued that the bill should apply retrospectively, so as to enable sufferers to pursue their claims now."

Families affected

About 400 men and their families are affected by the proposals - most of them former Clydeside shipyard workers.

The bill sets Scotland apart from the rest of the UK.

Frank Maguire of the firm Thompsons Solicitors - which represents the majority of victims in Scotland - said after the minister's announcement that the firm would be commencing proceedings in up to 100 cases.

Labour MSP Des McNulty spearheaded the early campaign for victims at Parliament with a member's bill, but this was taken on by the executive with the current bill in September.




SEE ALSO
Asbestos bill plans move forward
13 Dec 06 |  Scotland
MSPs hear asbestos claim dilemma
06 Dec 06 |  Scotland
Lung disease families lobby MSPs
06 Dec 06 |  Scotland
Legal hope for asbestosis victims
28 Sep 06 |  Scotland
MSPs approve asbestos law change
29 Jun 06 |  Scotland
Scotland to adopt asbestos ruling
21 Jun 06 |  Scotland

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