Wednesday, April 22, 2009

'Money must come before life' as insurers & lawyers launch legal challenge against Scotland's asbestos compensation law

Law Society of ScotlandLaw Society 'happy' over challenge against asbestos laws. Scots law firm Brodies LLP, acting for the big insurers, Avira, AXA Insurance, RSA, and Zurich, have launched a legal challenge in the form of a judicial review against The Scottish Government’s Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act, which passed the Scottish Parliament despite Tory opposition in a 98-16 vote and received Royal Assent last Friday.

The legal challenge to Scotland's law making powers, comes amid insurers claims that the new law, which makes it easier for victims of asbestos related illnesses to claim compensation, contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights and insurers' economic rights. However, can an insurer claim their Human Rights are being breached when it might just turn out those same insurers in respect of many other claims, do not respect the Human Rights of claimants or customers.

Simply, what we have here, is big business & corporations claiming their own human rights are being breached because they will have to pay out money to asbestos victims in Scotland, while not having to pay out in England & Wales because the House of Lords ruled in their favour that ‘pleural plaques’ do not qualify for compensation. It was this House of Lords ruling which prompted the Scottish Government to introduce the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act, arguing pleural plaques were symptomatic of asbestos exposure.

I reported on the earlier threats from the Insurers to take legal action if the Asbestos claims legislation was passed at the Parliament, here : Insurance firms with links to Scottish Government threaten legal challenge against Holyrood on asbestos claims reforms

ScottishGovernmentInsurers challenging asbestos law also insure Alex Salmond’s Scottish Govt. Some of the insurers who are participating in the legal challenge against Holyrood’s law making powers, have links to the SNP minority controlled Scottish Government, as you can see in my earlier report. At least one of the insurers, Royal & Sun Alliance is identified in papers showing insurance deals between, among other insurers, the RSA and Alex Salmond’s administration to provide indemnity insurance cover for quangos created by Ministers and also claims protection for the Government Legal Service for Scotland (GLSS).

The insurers Aviva, AXA Insurance, RSA, and Zurich who launched the legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, have argued that pleural plaques, which the new legislation recognises as a symptom of asbestos related illness, is nothing much to do with victims fatal exposure to the substance, going so far as to put their points on this argument in a rather unconvincing manner at the Scottish Parliament, which you can watch here :

Dr Pamela Abernethy of Edinburgh legal firm Simpson & Marwick argued at Holyrood, pleural plaques ‘were good for you’

You can read more about how the insurers & Simpson & Marwick argued against the passage of the asbestos claims legislation at the Scottish Parliament here : Insurance lawyers argue against laws to help asbestos victims asserting part of their suffering 'is a good thing'

Holyrood in Solicitor's Sights October 30 2006 The HeraldLaw Society threatened legal challenge against parliament in 2006. The last time the Scottish Parliament's law making powers were threatened on such high profile legislation occurred in 2006, when the Law Society of Scotland's then Chief Executive, Douglas Mill unbelievably claimed that new legislation in the form of the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 2007, created to independently regulate Scotland's 10,000 solicitors contravened a lawyers human right to regulate complaints against themselves.

Despite bringing forward an English QC to claim a human rights breach under ECHR, the Law Society's legal challenge never proceeded, however, lawyers did have their way, and the LPLA Act was heavily compromised through amendments insisted by the Law Society of Scotland, with the help of certain politicians within Holyrood known to be sympathisers of, and some suspect financial beneficiaries of the legal profession.

This time around, the insurers have support from the Scottish Conservative Party, who among their ranks, Bill Aitken MSP, Chairman of Holyrood's solitary Justice Committee after Mr Salmond scrapped the second Justice Committee, fearing opposition control. Mr Aitken apparently believes the asbestos claims law which will force insurers to pay out over pleural plaques, is ill conceived. Mr Aitken of course, has a long background in the insurance industry, as his Scottish Parliament profile reveals.

Incidentally you can read more about other things the Royal Sun Alliance get up to HERE.

Kenny MacAskillMacAskill claims he will defend his asbestos claims law against his own colleagues action. The Scottish Government, no doubt in the form of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill claimed today that they will ‘defend the action vigorously’, but what a slap in the face to the SNP it will be if the Court of Session do give the insurers their wishes. To make matters worse for Mr MacAskill, a legal insider indicated tonight, the Law Society of Scotland were apparently “happy” over the legal challenge against the asbestos claims legislation, one senior official stating “Its about time Holyrood got it in the neck” … indeed, but many of us might just be wondering isn’t it about time the Law Society got it in the neck ?

At the end of the day it comes down to the attitude we are used to seeing in the professions, be it banks, lawyers, or insurers, that money comes before lives, and there are plenty of Scottish legal firms happy to indulge big business and the insurers in that argument, giving a very potent signal to the public that access to justice is only obtainable through corporate wealth, or corporate agreement, and woe betide anyone who is too poor, or requires the use legal aid to secure a smidgeon of court time to pursue life threatening medical conditions which the insurers want killed off .. along with their victims to avoid making any compensation payments.

Money before life in Scotland today … and all because lawyers and their insurer supporters say so. How does that make you feel ?

The Herald reports :

Insurance giants to challenge asbestos claim ruling in court

BRIAN CURRIE April 22 2009

Britain's biggest insurance firms have lodged a legal challenge against a new law which allows Scots workers suffering from exposure to asbestos to sue for compensation.

Aviva, AXA Insurance, RSA, and Zurich have lodged an action for a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh of the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act which received Royal Assent only last Friday.

The act allows claims for compensation for people affected by pleural plaques. The insurers insist clinical evidence shows plaques are symptomless, do not impact on health or lead to asbestos-related diseases and the legislation overturns a House of Lords decision made in a case two years ago.

They claim the act ignores "overwhelming" medical evidence that plaques do not cause asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma, overturns a fundamental UK legal principle that compensation is payable only where physical harm has been suffered through negligent exposure to a risk and fails to fully assess the financial impact on Scottish firms.

Nick Starling, of the Association of British Insurers, said the action had not been taken lightly and claimed the legislation was "ill conceived" and ignored the fundamental legal principle of negligence and clear medical evidence.

A government spokesman said it would "vigorously defend" the challenge.

He said: "We are disappointed that this action to seek effectively to overturn the will of the Scottish Parliament has been taken.

"The insurance companies' action may delay, but will not ultimately defeat, our resolve to defend the rights of people who have been negligently exposed to asbestos by their clients. We firmly believe that our legislation is right in principle and right in law."


Anonymous said...

Hope you get some scapls with that headline matey !

Anonymous said...

This comes as no surprise Mr Cherbi, money is GOD to these people, they would gas the asbestos victims if they could to be shot of them. The Law Societies stance is no shock either. Lawyers as you know use any argument to protect their insurers. They do not care how ill someone is as long as no money changes hands as a consequence of that illness.

Anonymous said...

one senior official stating “Its about time Holyrood got it in the neck” … indeed, but many of us might just be wondering isn’t it about time the Law Society got it in the neck ?

Yes I definitely agree on that one ! the Law Society should get it in the neck !

Anonymous said...

If I wrote what I felt like after reading this you probably wouldn't print the comment.

Suffice to say these thugs should be treated like one banker deservedly was.

Anonymous said...

I see some banker has topped himself tonight.When do we get to hear the same good news coming from the crooked lawyers ?

Anonymous said...

Simpson and Marwick are clearly content to say anything to anyone at any time if they are paid - oh, and if their Professional Indemnity Insurance cover relies upon it.

At least they know Salmond, MacAskill and the SNP won't rock the boat - as long as they are in power.

Anonymous said...

This was a ridiculous decision to proceed with the review and if you want to be complete about the story Peter you should note that some legal firms have openly criticised the action led by Brodies.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers would (and probably do) eat babies just to save their own hides so burying a few asbestos victims wont take much of of their time.

Maybe they are having a party tonight with all that lovely money rolling in from the insurers ?

Anonymous said...

Another website
This is their homepage.

The British public are being blatantly ripped off by Corrupt Lawyers.

The Law Society has made it obvious by its indifference, that its primary role is to promote and protect the interest of its members.

Solicitors know that there are millions of pounds to be made from fraud. They use their legal knowledge to commit fraud, knowing they can get away with it.

Innocent clients are becoming victims, lives are being destroyed, families are being ripped apart and people are losing their homes, because of debts incurred first by solicitors stealing their money, then by trying to fight them in court.

The British government refuses to do anything about it.

With the power of the internet victims such as my-self, refuse to suffer in silence any longer. We are exposing the criminals within the British Legal System. The Law has failed us. This is a desperate cry for help, a last resort!

If embarrassing the solicitors, the Law Society and the British Government, is the only way of getting justice in Britain, then so be it.

Anonymous said...

When I check the internet there are more and more sites exposing corrupt lawyers. The latter are doing nothing about their accusers.
Lawyers are not going to get their own way any more. Future clients will be targeted en masse, so people are aware of the criminals they will be dealing with.
The public will be told which law firms to avoid, so the others will have to pull their socks up.
The Law Society and now the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, are crooked institutions. We must keep sending out the message that no member of the public can trust any member of the legal establishment. Lawyers do not see the person in the client, they see the profit that they can make, and that is the only thing they care about.

just wondering said...

Greed is good for insurers & lawyers by the sounds of it.

How much will Brodies be collecting in fees while the same insurers receive public money in payment for their services to Government ?

What a bloody perverse racket !

Anonymous said...

My own feeling on this is the SNP just rushed the law through to pick a fight with London just so they can claim different values & so on.

However if the insurers judicial review goes against wee eck and his mob it might just be the best thing to happen to Scotland because it will show everyone what the SNP really are - just a slave to business like everyone else.

Go High Court !

Anonymous said...

Hope everyone takes their insurance elsewhere after reading this !

Anonymous said...

Its fairly obvious the asbestos law is only a PR attempt by the SNP to claim they are acting for the greater good when they have no such bloody interest in doing so.

If the insurers give a few fat envelopes to Salmond & friends that will be the end of it

Anonymous said...

not surprised in the slightest - lawyers and insurers make a happy marriage of thugs and leeches

Anonymous said...

Next we will be hearing it was against the banks human rights that people fight repossessions!

What a bunch of suck f*cks!

Anonymous said...

More to the point Peter,this is yet another demonstration that lawyers control access to justice.

Just think how many cases revolve around ECHR and human rights which cant be heard because the person cant get a lawyer to represent them but here we have the insurers walking into a lawyers office and getting first class service all the way.

Very sick indeed and deserves to be the subject of public protests.

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments & emails on this article.

I agree there is a certain amount of politics about this asbestos compensation legislation, however only time will tell on the result of the insurers judicial review what happens next.

I would also certainly agree with Anonymous @ 6.35pm who comments this issue demonstrates the lack of access to justice for those who cannot obtain legal representation, while corporations can seemingly command the Scottish Courts and solicitors to do their bidding.

A disgusting state of affairs indeed, and one I feel which will not be resolved by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who apparently takes exception to anyone who dare suggest his colleagues in the legal profession are anything but honest ...

Anonymous said...

If the Court or the lawyers do win this challenge against Holyrood it should send a signal to everyone what to do about these damned legal thugs once and for all.

Lawyers challenging the Government over a law to pay victims of asbestos will never get the profession public sympathy.Good for you for exposing this Peter.

Anonymous said...

Mr Cherbi,

We are fighting legalised criminals, the SSDT are saying you will get a slap on the wrist, and a mentor if you rip off a client.
Mr O'Donnell is a member of the legalised criminal group of legal professionals. The profession who prosecute the layman are gentle on their own. It is little wonder clients are demanding independent complaints handling. The SSDT have said, you are a bad boy but you can keep working. A green light to other members of this group to do what they want when dealing with clients. Mr O'Donnell should be in prison.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope Bill Aitken never becomes Justice minister with that kind of attitude.

How despicable.Disgusting actually.He should go back and work for Eagle Star or whoever he started with and stay out of politics.