In 2019, politicians in Guernsey voted in favour of an asbestos compensation scheme, but the launch of the scheme was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2020, when restrictions in Guernsey began to lift, the scheme was given the final go ahead, and it officially launched on 1 January 2021.
What is the scheme?
The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme will provide a single payment to people living in Guernsey or Alderney who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. To be eligible, the person must: be aged 18 or over; be a resident of Guernsey or Alderney; have been exposed to asbestos in Guernsey or Alderney and have a diagnosis of mesothelioma which has been confirmed by a specialist consultant.
The amount paid will vary according to the person’s age at diagnosis. If a person does not receive a payment prior to their death, their partner or a dependent family member may make a claim.
Applications must be made within 12 months of the sufferer’s diagnosis. Where a person was diagnosed with mesothelioma before 1 January 2020, retrospective claims were accepted up to 31 March 2021.
The scheme only applies to mesothelioma; claims cannot be made for other asbestos-related diseases.
Application forms can be obtained by contacting the Pensions & Allowances Team on 01481 222506 or [email protected].
The introduction of the scheme has been very welcome following the launch of similar schemes in Jersey and England and Wales previously.
How does Guernsey’s scheme compare to those of other Countries?
Jersey’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Special Payment Scheme
Jersey’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Special Payment Scheme launched in October 2019.
In order to be eligible in Jersey, applicants must be aged 18 or over; have lived in Jersey for the last 5 years; have a diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma confirmed by a consultant; been exposed to asbestos in Jersey.
Payments range from £14,772 - £94,750, depending on the sufferer’s age.
If a sufferer does not receive a payment under the scheme in their lifetime, their dependent may make an application after their death.
Applications for the scheme must be submitted within 12 months of diagnosis, or 12 months from death (if applying as a dependent following a sufferer’s death).
In Jersey, payments are made as an interest-free loan, which is only repayable if additional compensation is received later on. This means a sufferer can make an application to the scheme, but also investigate a legal claim.
Application forms for the scheme in Jersey are available online.
England and Wales’ Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme
There is also a Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) in England and Wales, which launched in 2014. The DMPS scheme in England and Wales is only open to those who are unable to pursue a legal claim for compensation where they are unable to trace their former employers (or their insurers) who were responsible for their exposure to asbestos dust.
Payments are made on a sliding scale depending on age, as in Jersey and Guernsey.
In order to be eligible, a sufferer must: have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after 25 July 2012; have been exposed to asbestos in their work; have evidence of employment with the exposer; have a witness statement describing their exposure and have proof of failure to trace any exposing companies/insurers.
As with the schemes in Jersey and Guernsey, if a sufferer does not receive a payment in their lifetime, financial dependents may be able to make a claim following their death.
Similarly, the DMPS only applies to those diagnosed with mesothelioma and claims cannot be made for any other asbestos-related disease.
The scheme in England and Wales is also limited to those who were exposed to asbestos through their work and does not cover exposure to asbestos dust in any other capacity.
The DMPS scheme has a time limit for applications of three years from diagnosis. This time limit applies to both sufferers and dependents (the time limit does not restart on death as it does in Jersey).
In addition to the compensation payment, the DMPS scheme pays a fixed sum of £7,000 in respect of legal costs if a sufferer/dependent chooses to seek legal assistance to make an application. Due to the complexities with the DMPS scheme and the evidence required in support of the application, we would always encourage applicants to seek legal assistance.
What about legal claims?
Whilst these schemes offer great comfort to mesothelioma sufferers, consideration should always be given to the possibility of making a civil claim. The payments from these schemes are often much less than may be awarded if a civil claim is successful.
We would always recommend seeking specialist legal advice. Specialist solicitors will be able to advise about potentially making a civil claim, but they can also assist with submitting applications to Government schemes, which are not always straightforward. An application under the DMPS in England and Wales, in particular, requires a lot of supportive evidence.
Whilst in Jersey any payment made under their Diffuse Mesothelioma Special Payment Scheme can be re-paid if a civil claim is later successful, in England and Wales an application can only be made to the DMPS if a civil claim is not possible because the exposing company (or their insurers) cannot be traced.
It is also important to bear in mind that whilst these schemes are only open to those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, civil claims for compensation can be made for other asbestos-related diseases, including diffuse pleural thickening, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and are interested in seeking compensation, we would recommend seeking specialist legal advice.