In the Media

Clarke in Jackson reform climbdown

PUBLISHED April 24, 2012

Tuesday 24 April 2012 by John Hyde

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke today made a surprise U-turn to postpone Jackson reforms for mesothelioma cases.

The issue has been the most controversial aspect of part two of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill, with the Lords voting for a second time on Monday to oppose the government. Clarke today tabled an amendment in the House of Commons postponing LASPO reforms for all claims relating to mesothelioma cases.

The postponement will allow time for a review of the likely effect of the reforms. The Ministry of Justice will report on the review's conclusions.

The amendment means that in mesothelioma cases, after-the-event insurance and success fees are likely to remain recoverable from losing defendants after April 2013, the date when Jackson reforms are due to be implemented. The amendment is a surprise climbdown from the government, which as recently as the Lords debate on Monday was arguing that cases could not be differentiated.

Justice minister Lord McNally told the House of Lords mesothelioma cases could not be treated differently to other types of serious illness, but the government lost by nine votes.

A Labour spokesperson described the U-turn as 'a huge victory for asbestos charities and those that have been advocating for so long that the Jackson reforms were flawed in their disregard of victims.'