Lump sum scheme could see compensation cut for top level claims

Tens of thousands of injured miners will see their compensation cut if a new scheme for settlement is agreed at a meeting in October.

According to Hugh James partner Peter Evans, the current scheme, where miners are medically assessed for compensation, could be replaced by a compulsory lump sum.

This means that miners with the worst industrial diseases and injuries could see their six-figure compensation pay-outs cut to much smaller sums.

Evans said that he did not want to see a compulsory scheme. He favoured a lump sum scheme, which injured miners (or their widows) can opt into. Such a scheme would cut the length of time to settle, he said.

More than 240,000 miners are yet to have their claims settled. Registration for the compensation scheme, which was introduced in 1997, ended earlier this year. The total number of claims received was 540,000.

Because there have been so many claims, Evans said, it would take seven or eight years to clear them all using conventional medical screening. He added that more than half of Britain's 600 respiratory consultants were already employed by the scheme.

It is understood that Mr Justice Turner, who presided over the High Court test case for miners' compensation, believes that dragging settlements out over another seven or eight years is too long.

As such, a review of the scheme will be held on 18 October, where alternative settlement ideas will be discussed.

The scheme is being administered by Capita and the lead solicitors are Irwin Mitchell, Thompsons and Hugh James.

Miners' representatives are understood to be livid at the thought of a compulsory lump sum scheme.