ACTU Welcomes Outcomes Of NSW Government Review Of Legal And Administrative Costs In Asbestos Compensation – The ACTU has welcomed todays release of the outcomes of the NSW Government review of legal and administrative costs in asbestos compensation.

ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said, “We believe the Government’s
recommendations properly protect the rights of asbestos victims while also
introducing sensible new procedures which should significantly reduce the
waiting times and legal and administrative costs associated with asbestos

Mr Combet was the lead negotiator representing unions, asbestos groups and
the NSW Government in last year’s campaign to get James Hardie to provide
funding for its compensation liabilities to current and future Australian
victims of its asbestos products.

As part of his negotiations with James Hardie, in November last year Mr
Combet requested that the NSW Government conduct an independent review of
legal and administrative costs associated with asbestos compensation in NSW.
This was a key element of the final $1.5 billion asbestos compensation
heads-of-agreement secured by the ACTU from James Hardie in December last year.

“When I asked the NSW Government to conduct this review I was very
clear that whatever the outcome, the rights and compensation payments to
asbestos victims had to be protected. This was critical because at that time
James Hardie had been pushing for the introduction of caps on compensation.

“I believe that the outcome of this review achieves the ACTU’s
goals. It protects the rights and compensation of asbestos victims while
achieving significant legal and administrative cost savings. In particular
there will be no caps on compensation levels.

“The way is now clear for James Hardie to quickly conclude a final and
legally binding agreement with the NSW Government which reflects the commitments
it made to asbestos victims, the ACTU and the Australian public in December last
year,” said Mr Combet.

Key recommendations of the NSW Government’s review of legal and
administrative costs in asbestos compensation include:

  • Existing compensation benefits and rights of asbestos victims protected with
    no caps on compensation claims.
  • Early claims settlement through the use of compulsory pre-trial mediation.
  • Reduced legal costs through early settlement and the avoidance of
    unnecessary litigation.
  • Asbestos victims to retain their right to an early trial in urgent cases or
    if their health deteriorates.
  • Streamlined process for achieving contribution agreements between defendants
    in multi-defendant cases.
  • Media Contacts

    Greg Combet- ACTU Secretary (via Susannah Greenleaf) – 0418 479 455

    Bernie Banton – Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia – 0412 925 912