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Better access to compensation for asbestos victims

The Napthine Government has acted to restore the rights of people suffering asbestos-related conditions as a result of another’s fault.

Until recently, those seeking compensation for an asbestos-related condition were not required to show that their condition constituted a ‘significant injury’ under the Wrongs Act. Conditions of this type were as a matter of course treated as significant.

However, in June this year the Supreme Court of Victoria decided in Multari v Amaca that a plaintiff who had suffered from an asbestos-related condition did need to comply with the requirements to prove the seriousness of the injury. The ‘significant injury’ assessment can take several months to complete.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the Governor in Council yesterday made regulations under the Wrongs Act to restore the previous arrangements by ensuring that those making claims for asbestos-related conditions are exempt from the ‘significant injury’ assessment process.

“It is important that people suffering asbestos-related conditions are not delayed in seeking redress,” Mr Clark said.

“People suffering from conditions including mesothelioma are clearly suffering from a significant injury and in some cases may not have long to live, so it makes sense to exclude their cases from the process to certify the extent of their injury.”

Conditions covered in the exemptions include asbestosis, asbestos-induced carcinoma, asbestos-related pleural disease and mesothelioma.

“The changes are being introduced as regulations to ensure they are made as soon as possible,” Mr Clark said.

The regulations will apply for all court proceedings commenced on or after today. The Government will also examine whether legislation should be introduced into the next Parliament to apply the changes to any proceedings already issued that may have been affected by the Supreme Court’s decision this year, as it is not possible for the regulations to operate retrospectively.