Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group
Chair: Tony Whitston
0161636 7555/ m 07748189837
Devastating Court of Appeal Asbestos Judgment
The Court of Appeal today, Friday 8th October, handed down a judgment which
overturns 50 years of settled law regarding which insurer must pay compensation to
For 50 years, insurers of negligent companies at the time exposure to asbestos
occurred have been liable to pay compensation for the asbestos-related disease,
mesothelioma, which occurs many decades after exposure.
This judgment allows for the interpretation of the policy wording, so that insurers may
only be liable when the disease occurs if the wording of the policy indicates this. In
such cases, the disease, mesothelioma, will often be diagnosed 50 years after
exposure to asbestos, so those companies are unlikely to be trading after such a
lapse of time, hence there will be no insurer to satisfy a claim and no compensation.
The effect of the judgment. This judgment, will have a devastating impact on dying
mesothelioma sufferers. It will mean that thousands of mesothelioma sufferers may
lose their right to compensation.
Furthermore, Government will no longer be able to recover lump sum payments
made pending compensation from insurers.
Caught in the cross fire. Mesothelioma sufferers have been caught in the cross fire of
a war between insurers, where the protagonists have no regard whatsoever to the
collateral damage to asbestos victims.
Thousands have died awaiting this judgment. Mrs Byrnes, whose husband Ronald
died from mesothelioma, and whose compensation has been held on hold for 5 years
said: “Sadly my husband never lived to see his employers accept responsibility for
his suffering. He would have wanted to see justice done. My heartache has been
prolonged by the insurers who refuse to pay compensation and this judgment will
prolong my agony and that of thousands of others.”
Tony Whitston, Chair Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum said: “This is a
disastrous decision. Thousands of dying asbestos victims will lose compensation and
all will live their last days in uncertainty. As a last resort, the Government must
overturn any judgment which upholds the Court of Appeal decision and which has
such a devastating effect on compensation to dying asbestos victims”
For comments from people affected by this case and from the Forum please
Tel: 0161 636 7555 or 07748189837
NOTES TO EDITORS
Mesothelioma is a fatal tumour of the lining of the lung or abdomen, caused almost
exclusively by asbestos, with a life expectancy from diagnosis of about 12 months.
2,157 people died from mesothelioma in 2007. In total, 90,000 people are expected
to die from mesothelioma by 2050 from past exposure to asbestos since the
epidemic began in the 1960s. About 60,000 people are yet to die from mesothelioma
from past exposure.
2008 High Court judgment in Trigger Case. The judge held that there should be no
change in the law. This judgment was appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The Trigger Case is one of many test cases which have threatened compensation
for mesothelioma sufferers:
In the Fairchild case (2002) the House of Lords overturned an attempt by insurers
to say that since no one could say which deadly asbestos fibre killed a
mesothelioma sufferer, no employer could be found liable.
In the Barker case (2006) the government overturned a House of Lords decision
which allowed apportionment of damages between guilty employers. This would
have meant that compensation would have been proportionately lost where
insurers of defunct employers could not be traced.
Today’s Court of Appeal judgment would have a far worse impact than the Barker