Changes in the law making it easier for people to claim compensation for asbestos-related lung cancer have been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

The move, approved unanimously by MSPs, will make it possible for victims to seek recompense without blocking claims by their families after their death.

Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos dust.

The condition has been diagnosed in 400 men – most of them former Clydeside shipyard workers.

Scotland has led the way in the UK on the legal amendment and is allowing claims from the beginning of this year.

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this legislation which brings to an end asbestos victims’ terrible dilemma Frank Maguire Solicitor for victims.

Deputy Justice Minister Johann Lamont said the Rights To Damages Bill addressed “urgently and exclusively a horrible dilemma” which the law of damages caused for sufferers who faced certain, but not immediate, death.

“Most sufferers are going without the comforts which compensation might provide before they die so that their family can benefit from larger awards,” she said.

“This is an appalling predicament for sufferers and their families to be faced with at what is an already tremendously difficult and harrowing time.”

Lie dormant

Solicitor Frank Maguire, who represents sufferers and their families, said: “I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this legislation which brings to an end asbestos victims’ terrible dilemma over when to claim their compensation.

“We have about 100 cases already proceeding under the new law and that figure will continue to rise because the incidence of mesothelioma has not yet peaked.

“These are all victims who didn’t want to claim for themselves because that would have disadvantaged their families.”

Mesothelioma can lie dormant for 20 years or more but when it is diagnosed, victims usually have only months to live.

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