The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that the Government is to compensate thousands of victims of pleural plaques.

Pleural plaques are a form of scarring of the lungs caused by penetration of them by asbestos fibres. Since pleural plaques do not themselves cause any physical symptoms, the House of Lords ruled in 2007 that compensation was not payable to people who have developed them as a result of exposure to asbestos at work.

However, the decision caused considerable disquiet since the development of pleural plaques can be a precursor to the development of a more serious asbestos-related disease. The condition can therefore cause considerable anxiety to anyone diagnosed with it. 
In recognition of the unique circumstances of those who had already begun, but not resolved, a legal claim for compensation before the Law Lords’ ruling, the Government has decided to make one-off payments of £5,000 to people in that category. The scheme will apply in England and Wales.
Applications will be accepted by the MoJ until 1 August 2011. For further information, see http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/pleural-plaques-compensation-scheme.htm.

Asbestos exposure can lead to a number of serious illnesses. There are an estimated 4,000 asbestos-related deaths a year in the UK, of which over half are from mesothelioma, a deadly disease of the lining of the lungs for which there is no cure.

If you have suffered ill health as a result of exposure to harmful substances in your workplace, contact us for advice.