‘Disease claims are no more a special case than any other’

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill has emerged from the House of Lords with part two (the Jackson clauses) largely unscathed. But the government did suffer defeat on two amendments intended to preserve recoverable success fees and after-the-event premiums for disease claims.

One is designed to allow recoverability in respiratory disease claims; the other apparently extends to all disease claims, but is so poorly worded it could apply to almost any condition caused by work.

But these amendments will no doubt be removed when the bill returns to the Commons after Easter. Ultimately it cannot be right to have either carved out, as disease claims are no more a special case than any other. In deafness claims, for instance, insurers still see costs far exceeding damages. Lord Justice Jackson had access to justice fully in mind when he recommended complete abolition of recoverability. That recommendation is right.

Andrew Parker is head of strategic litigation at law firm DAC Beachcroft