MPs from both sides of the House of Commons have raised concerns that solicitors will begin charging mesothelioma victims a full £7,000 for legal services under the new mesothelioma compensation scheme.
Lawyers advising clients about the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme will be able to claim up to £7,000 for their services.
The legal fee was originally set at a maximum of £2,000, but work and pensions Minister Mike Penning told MPs during a debate on the matter, that after speaking to representatives from the PI industry, the limit was raised in order to encourage competition. He also said that claimants with simpler or more straightforward cases should be charged a lower fee. Mesothelioma sufferers who are not charged the full £7,000 by their lawyers will get to keep the remainder of the available legal fee.
However, as reported by Litigation Futures, shadow work and pensions minister Kate Green expressed concern that the £7,000 would become a tariff.
“I have since been advised by an asbestos victims support group that it has been asked to help to get mesothelioma victims to put pressure on their lawyers to keep the fees low. That is unacceptable," she said.
“At a time when they are coping with an appalling illness and worrying about the future for their families, as they know they may not even survive to receive the compensation that they are due, the last thing they need is to get into an argument with their lawyers about fees.”
Conservative MP Stephen Phillips, speaking during a public bill committee meeting to scrutinise the Bill in December, said that he feared that lawyer would charge a flat fee of £7,000 "even if only 20 minutes work was involved".
"By raising the legal fees from £2,000 to £7,000, we might simply be creating another cottage industry of the sort that we have seen in the past, depriving those who have suffered as a result of the industrial circumstances in which they worked from the compensation to which they are plainly entitled," he said.