At a recent meeting with Her Majesty’s Association of District Judges, the judges in attendance commented upon the apparent over-use of the High Court’s specialist asbestos claims list ahead of other civil courts in England and Wales.
Master Eastman and McCloud’s specialist procedure which looks to deal with mesothelioma claims on a “fast-track” basis has long been used by Asbestos Justice and other specialist firms to advance mesothelioma claims as swiftly as possible. The court is known for setting down early hearings for the issue of liability to be dealt with early by the court at the time of listed telephone hearings.
Under the “Mesothelioma Practice Direction) (PDD3), Defendants have to “show cause” at the hearing, showing why judgment should not be entered in favour of the mesothelioma Claimant at that time. This essentially reverses the burden of proof in mesothelioma claims and places the onus on Defendants to obtain supportive evidence which has to be “more than fanciful” to support a denial of liability in a Claimant’s case for mesothelioma compensation.
Not only are mesothelioma Claimants assisted by this reversal, they also reap the benefits of ensuring that their case is heard early. Mesothelioma is an incurable asbestos related cancer which is thought to kill over 2,000 people each year in the UK and has devastating affects on the sufferer and their family. Moving the case forward quickly in everyway possible to ensure mesothelioma compensation is secured swiftly for Claimants during their time of need is absolutely vital. Asbestos Justice’s James Cameron, Solicitor states:-
“Making use of the London High Court’s specialist asbestos procedure is a vital tool used by specialist solicitors like myself to ensure a Claimant’s claim for mesothelioma is dealt with on an urgent basis. Claimants benefit from knowing that their cases will be considered by Master Eastman and McCloud who have a wealth of experience of dealing with asbestos disease cases. Non-specialist firms may not be aware of the procedure and by issuing proceedings in cases away from London may encounter significant delay and may also find judges without the necessary knowledge and expertise to decide upon often complex issues surrounding asbestos disease litigation.
If such problems are encountered, sufferers and their families could have to face up to a perverse procedural decision by a District Judge, without the time to rectify this on Appeal before the sufferer passes away. There may be examples of judges failing to appreciate the application of the Mesothelioma Practice Direction, resulting in devastating affects.”
One such example was given at the meeting before Her Majesty’s Association of District Judges where a member stated:-
“I issued in Hull last year – what a mistake, never again. The Defendant’s counsel took advantage of a weak judge who admitted that he wasn’t familiar with these sorts of claim and wouldn’t deal with them on a “show cause” basis as that seemed a bit over the top and perhaps it was fair and right to give the defendants more time. What a nonsense it was.”
Other asbestos related disease claims can be brought under the same procedure in addition to mesothelioma claims and Asbestos Justice has found that other claims involving asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening also benefit from the specialist list which makes use of email at its core.
Asbestos Justice has often found that once the Masters at the High Court have been emailed with documentation on a certain day, replies are received from the court that very day allowing the firm to advance asbestos disease claims quickly for Claimants. The High Court email system no doubt widens the door to justice for thousands of asbestos disease sufferers each year.