The Mesothelioma Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (the Act) was given Royal Assent on 2 July 2008. The Act allows victims with diffuse mesothelioma or their dependants to claim a lump sum payment from the government. This new Act allows even those victims who did not have workplace exposure to asbestos to claim a payment under the Act. Under past law, only those who were exposed whilst at work could claim such a government payout. The new Act will allow victims who may have been exposed at home because they lived with someone who brought asbestos home on their clothes or because they lived near an asbestos factory, to claim compensation.

The Act mirrors legislation applicable to England & Wales, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 and the Mesothelioma Lump Sum Payments (Conditions and Amounts) Regulations 2008, which similarly provide for a lump sum payment to mesothelioma sufferers or their dependents provided they have not received a damages payment through a civil claim. This legislation, expected to come into force in October 2008, reflects steps by the UK Government to improve the position of individuals with this fatal disease.