Let me ask you - can you remember the names and dates of all your employers? If you have only had one job in your lifetime this might be possible, but the more jobs you have had the more difficult it becomes, then add to that the problem of being able to prove the dates of employment.
This is at the heart of a significant problem when you bring a claim for a condition, or disease, caused in the workplace as it is necessary for you to prove your dates of employment with each employer. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is as simple as asking the tax office (HMRC) for your tax records - after all they have kept records dating back to 1961 and have a statutory duty to supply the information within 40 days.
If only. There is over a twelve month wait for this information to be sent out, the only exception being if you have an asbestos-related terminal cancer. The long wait is down to the ancient equipment HMRC staff are working with, which I can only imagine dates back to the era of when employment records began over 50 years ago. In this digital age you would think records would be computerised. HMRC use archaic microfiche readers instead, which can only be used for limited periods at a time to stop them from breaking.
You would be frustrated if upon making a claim your solicitor tells you simply to wait a year before they can progress it any further. Your former employer’s insurers dealing with the claim will not even begin to contemplate the matter until they have the information from the HMRC. Realistically, why would they do it any differently? As far as the insurance company is concerned there is not yet any evidence that its client could be responsible for your condition, so they will wait until HMRC confirms it.
I remember as a law student taking a special journey to the library where a microfiche reader would be situated in order to find the tiny slide film pictures of records and then use a reader a bit like the old overhead projector readers to scroll through all the information. This is how staff at HMRC are tracing older tax records.
The Government has no plans to change this method and yet it is relentlessly changing other aspects of civil litigation beyond recognition. Without this simple modernisation the claims process will not be any quicker. It’s like being stuck in a dream in which you are desperately trying to get somewhere quickly and try as you might you cannot run.