March 2012 articles archive:

Landmark UK Supreme Court ruling in asbestos case.

Civil litigation can be a test of stamina for those involved and often raises issues of inequality in terms of resources, strategies and access to justice itself.

This landmark case will have an important impact beyond the claims by families of people who died from asbestos related cancer after exposure to asbestos. Not only will its effects be felt by the insurance industry as many more insurance companies find themselves faced with having to meet claims, but it will also serve as a timely reminder of the pitfalls facing individuals when they are bringing actions in the civil courts. Civil litigation can be a test of stamina for those involved and often raises issues of inequality in terms of resources, strategies and access to justice itself. Asbestos claims are no exception and such claims by families may indeed come to epitomise some of the horrors of civil litigation.

The ruling handed down by the Supreme Court is significant because the court placed insurance liability on the insurer at the time an employee was exposed to asbestos not at the time the symptoms appeared.  The material time for insurance cover by employers will be when the exposure to asbestos dust took place, this will be the 'trigger' and not when the symptoms of mesothelioma emerge which, in some cases, may not be until several decades after the exposure.

The effect of the ruling will bring certainty to such proceedings and means that it will be the insurer at the time the employee was exposed who is liable - not the insurer when the mesothelioma emerges.

Apparently the resistance and need for an appeal to the Supreme Court came from a small group of 'run-off' insurers who were out of step with the majority of insurers. These 'run-off' insurers are insurance companies who are no longer accepting new business.

Not only will the ruling affect present claims by families but it will also affect many of the claims that are yet to be made on behalf of the thousands of employers who develop mesothelioma each year.


Recent Posts

The latest posts from the blog archives.

Court of appeal gives judgment acknowledging unmarried woman's rights

M/s J Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation trust and others (2017)[2017] EWCA Civ 1916.

European union law – in the case of conflict between national law and european law

Walker (Appellant) v Innospec Limited and others (Respondents) [2017] UKSC 47 On appeal from [2015] EWCA Civ 1000

Vicarious liability is alive and well

This decision extends the doctrine of vicarious liability in respect of foster carers for the fist time and it represents another example of the potential for the expansion of this form of liability.

Supreme court busy - make sure you are geared up for your course

The Supreme Court has been especially busy lately.

Gina miller v secretary of state for exiting the eu 2016 as an example of the importance of judicial independence

Law students are now required to take note of how the independence and work of the judiciary has been reformed

Policing and crime bill and provisions for bail after arrest but before charge

The clear intention is that decisions on pre-charge bail should come under scrutiny.

The judicial committee of the privy council – a colonial legacy

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the highest court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries.

Does the scrapping of glen parva secure college and the lifting of a book ban herald the start to serious reform of the failing prison system?

How much of Michael Gove's vision for prisons and the criminal justice system will be effective in righting self-inflicted wrongs remains to be seen.