*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.

In New South Wales, workers’ compensation legislation has mechanisms that enable the recovery of lump sum compensation for dust diseases even in circumstances where a past employer has ceased to exist. Indeed, this situation arises regularly given the long period between exposure to asbestos and the onset of asbestos disease.

The period between the exposure to asbestos and the onset of a dust disease is generally around 30 to 40 years. Many claims for compensation therefore deal with events occurring as early as the 1950s. The legal system for recovering compensation for dust diseases in every state is designed to take into account these long latency periods.

New South Wales has a specialist court set up to hear common law claims for victims of dust related diseases, the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales.

A person can claim in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales against former employers, occupiers of sites and manufacturers of products.

The Tribunal was established to provide effective and speedy processes in dust diseases litigation. If a person claims for a malignant disease (such as mesothelioma or lung cancer), the claim will normally take between three and six months to complete.

Claims for asbestosis or other benign dust diseases can be brought on a provisional damages basis. This means that a further claim can be brought should a claimant be diagnosed as suffering from a different dust disease in the future, even if the later disease arises out of the same exposure to dust.

Claims for asbestos diseases in the Dust Diseases Tribunal are subject to a special claims resolution process. The claims resolution process requires the early exchange of information and compulsory mediation before a matter can come before the Tribunal. For a mesothelioma claim, mediation must occur within nine to twelve weeks of the Statement of Particulars being filed. If a case does not settle at mediation it will come before the Tribunal and a trial date will be appointed.

There is no limitation period for claims brought in the Dust Diseases Tribunal, but claims must be commenced in a person’s lifetime for full compensation to be recovered.

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