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Asbestos: Landmark ruling for compensation claims


The UK Supreme Court has made a ruling which could allow thousands of insurance claims by families of people who died after exposure to asbestos.  There had been confusion from the courts on how to decide when payments for injury from working with asbestos would apply - was it from the date of working with asbestos or from the date that symptoms of disease appeared?

The new ruling by a panel of five Supreme Court justices states that the disease can be said to have been "sustained" by an employee in the period when it was caused or initiated.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance and health at the Association of British Insurers, said: "Today's ruling by the Supreme Court has confirmed what most in the industry have always understood - that the insurer on cover when the claimant was exposed to asbestos should pay the claim, rather than the insurer on cover when the mesothelioma develops.

After a six-year legal battle the relatives involved in this litigation will get their compensation, but it is likely to affect thousands of other existing and future claims.

According to specialist lawyers, each payout could amount to anything from £65,000 to several million pounds, depending on individual circumstances.

Helen Ashton from Irwin Mitchell said: "This judgment means that the thousands of people who are yet to be given the devastating news that they have the deadly illness will at least know that their families can get access to justice and receive the financial security they need.

"But the sad fact is that many victims of mesothelioma who have been awaiting the outcome of this appeal may not have lived long enough to know if their families will now receive the compensation they deserve."

She said asbestos-related disease caused more than 5,000 deaths every year.

Please note new Asbestos Regulations come into force on April 6th 2012.

For more information on asbestos go to the HSE website at

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