Thompsons Solicitors has welcomed Government plans to help injured workers and their families obtain compensation

Today’s announcement from the Department for Work and Pensions outlined plans to create an Employers’ Liability Tracing Office to help people track down their employers’ liability insurance policies, and an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) to provide a fund of last resort for those who are unable to trace insurers.

Campaign for the right to compensation for workplace injuries

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors, which has been campaigning for an ELIB for years said: “This positive move is as welcome as it is overdue.”

As the UK’s most experienced personal injury law firm, Thompsons has campaigned with trade unions, victims groups and families on a wide range of issues to protect the right to compensation for workplace accidents and illness.

Currently anyone who cannot trace the insurer of an employer which has gone out of business is unable to obtain compensation.

Thompsons has always pointed out the unfairness that whilst people injured by negligent uninsured drivers get full compensation from the Motor Insurers Bureau, injured workers unable to trace their employer’s insurers are left with nothing. 

Ian McFall said: “It is essential that ELIB is a guaranteed insurance fund of last resort to protect all injured workers not just those who have asbestos-related disease.” 

“We have said for many years that what is good enough for road traffic accident victims is good enough for the workers.”

Accidents and industrial diseases eligible under the scheme

The government will now hold a consultation, which closes in May, to decide how the tracing office could be best managed and funded. It will also look at the type of accident or disease which will be covered by the ELIB and which claims will be eligible under the scheme.

Cancer sufferer Christopher Bell, 64, from Gateshead is one person who could benefit from the new ELIB. 

Mr Bell was awarded £216,000 compensation by the High Court after developing fatal lung cancer mesothelioma but because his former employer’s insurers cannot be found he fears he will not see a penny.

Mr Bell, who is seriously ill, was exposed to asbestos while working for Sowerby Ellison Glassworks in East Street, Gateshead, between 1961 and 1968.

Thompsons has made extensive enquiries including a search via the tracing scheme operated by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) who were unable to locate any record to confirm who the insurers were.

Mr Bell lives alone and relies on his sister, Catherine Gilroy, to care for him. She welcomed the consultation but hoped her brother would still be alive to benefit from the outcome. 

Catherine, 57, said: “My brother had no idea his work had caused him to be so ill until the doctor told him mesothelioma was caused by asbestos. When he heard that he knew straight away he’d got it while working for Sowerbys. 

"The suffering my brother has gone through has been heart breaking to watch. To be left with a worthless piece of paper from the court when we have proved who is to blame is the ultimate insult. My brother has literally been made to pay with his life for his job.

“We hope that the ELIB will be put in place and quickly so that my brother can benefit from it. Otherwise no-one will pay.