Government Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Shailash Vara, showed yesterday in a debate in the House of Commons on the ending of the exemption of the LASPO Act provisions for Mesothelioma cases, how hollow government claims are of caring about mesothelioma victims, and despite the profuse use of caring language, that in fact this is a mechanical government, who care little for the victims and their families.
The government in the debate were challenged as to why they had failed to carry out a proper review into the impact of the LASPO changes on Mesothelioma cases, which had been promised, before announcing they were ending the exemption. It was also asked why the Report the Government had prepared on the consultation process (a process which turned out to be merely a questionnaire, hardly a consultation) had not been published so far.
Vara claimed that the reason they had not published the Report that had been written on the review process, was because they wanted to in his words let all ‘stakeholders’ know the outcome as soon as possible. It is interesting to note of course that the announcement that the government were ending the exemption was done in a particularly low key way, barely noticeable. The lack of the Report so far, suggests to me that this ‘caring’ government had made the decision effectively before the review process had even taken place. What of course they now need to do, as best they can, is to ensure that the Report is worded in such a way to favour their position of ending the exemption.
Vara in the debate claimed that there was no justification to favour mesothelioma cases as against other serious injury cases. Well that does raise the interesting point, of why there is not a difference under the LASPO provisions between all serious injuries and more minor injuries? The very words of Vara in the debate state, ‘there are many other serious personal injury and fatal claims, to which LASPO reforms already apply, that produce difficult challenges for victims and families.’ Those last few words of the Minister need to be highlighted, as clearly the government are recognising that LASPO is creating difficulties for victims of serious injuries!
The Minister claimed that the Government wished to streamline the whole claims process, but then he stated that the amount of a success fee was a matter of negotiation between claimants and their lawyers. Now the key point here is that this suggests that claimants effectively shop around for the best deal in terms of lower success fees, which is hardly conducive to either a speedier process or effective justice. Furthermore, to assert that meso victims should either shop around or seek to negotiate lower fees with solicitors in their condition, is frankly a disgraceful comment from a morally discredited government.