AN Oxfordshire solicitor has given a guarded welcome to the decision by MPs to set up a fund for victims of asbestos exposure who cannot claim compensation through the courts.

The Mesothelioma Bill had its third and final reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday and goes to the House of Lords for a final chance to table amendments before it becomes law.

The legislation enables people who were negligently exposed to asbestos, but cannot trace the responsible employer, or their insurer, to get compensation funded by a levy on current insurers.

Brigitte Chandler, of Wantage law firm Charles Lucas & Marshall, said the fund will compensate victims of asbestos where their employer has ceased trading and no trace of insurance liability can be found.

However, she said the the fund would only be available to claimants diagnosed with mesothelioma after July 25 in 2012, excluding many of the clients Ms Chandler is representing.

She said: “The Bill is long overdue and is to be welcomed, although it only provides for a fraction of the compensation that a successful claimant might obtain through the courts.

“It is not the fault of claimants that insurance companies have failed to keep proper records.”

It is estimated that mesothelioma sufferers have lost £800m in compensation as a result of untraced insurance.

At least 300 victims are expected to win average payouts of £100,000.