The government has admitted that a 2010 act designed to help people gain compensation for industrial diseases is unlikely to be implemented until 2013.
The Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Act was pushed through two years ago to update legislation dating from 1930.
It gave claimants, including those suffering from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, the right to proceed against an insurer directly without having to re-establish a defunct former employer.
The act is one of several Law Commission proposals effectively to have been shelved, a Ministry of Justice report reveals. Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said it was ‘unlikely’ the Third Parties Act would commence until 2013 due to work on ‘other priorities’.
Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter told the Gazette that Clarke should urgently explain ‘this unconscionable delay’.
He said: ‘Alongside the legal aid bill, this is yet another exam¬ple of the government favouring the interests of insurers over those of victims.’
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said victims of asbestos-related disease have been waiting for reform since the Law Commission started looking at the issue in 1998.
A spokesman said: The provision in the 2010 act for claimants to have the right to seek compensation directly from insurers, without having to resurrect the defunct companies of negligent employers, would make a huge difference to people suffering from long-latency diseases.’
The Health and Safety Execu¬tive says male deaths from mesothelioma will peak this year at 1,860. This means that more than 3,000 people are likely to have died from the disease in the time taken to pass the Third Parties Act
The act is one of 18 Law Com¬mission projects to have stalled under the current government, the MoJ report reveals. A further two, concerning intoxication and criminal liability and the illegality defence, have been dropped altogether.
Clarke said progress is being made on further implementations and that the government ‘continues to hold the excellent work of the Law Commission in very high regard’.
“Law Society’s Gazette” 13.4.12