LAWYERS representing victims of asbestos illnesses could be limited to fixed legal fees by new Government plans.
Justice Minister Helen Grant has announced measures aimed at speeding up the process of claiming compensation for people with fatal cancer mesothelioma.
Tyneside campaigners have welcomed the move towards speedier justice but said more detail was needed about the plans.
Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of internal organs, kills more than 2,300 people every year including many from the North East.
It tends to affects former manual workers such as shipbuilders and plumbers, who have come in contact with the deadly material during their career.
But because diagnosis generally comes decades after exposure, some struggle to track down their former employers and die without seeing a penny of compensation.
An estimated 300 people a year receive no civil compensation because their employer’s insurer cannot be traced. In her written statement, Ms Grant said the Government was thinking of creating a legal protocol for settling claims.
She said the measures were aimed at making it quicker for claims to be resolved, and also at clamping down on some solicitors who have been accused of profiteering from claimants.
“The Government considers that it is imperative that these claims are settled quickly and that early payment of compensation is made so as to ease the sufferings of victims of this dreadful disease and give some assurance that their dependants will be financially secure when they are no longer around,” Ms Grant said.
“However, this cannot be achieved without a speedy pre-litigation process, which is why the Government has decided to consult on how best to reduce delays in these cases.”