Victims of asbestos won today a major victory after judges threw out a court appeal by insurance firms.
Axa, Aviva, RSA and Zurich had tried to get the Court Of Session to rule that a law passed by the Scottish Parliament allowing sufferers of pleural plaques to claim compensation was illegal.
Today, three judges at the court rejected their claim, paving the way for more than 1000 claims for compensation. It could cost the insurance firms tens of millions of pounds.
Pleural plaques is a symptomless thickening of lung membranes. It can be caused by past exposure to asbestos but have no symptoms or ill-effects. They are not considered a disease in their own right.
Thousands of people in Scotland have the condition, many of whom worked in heavy industry for a number of years.
The Scottish Parliament passed a law in 2009 giving sufferers the right to claim compensation after the House of Lords had previously said they were not eligible.
A judge threw out the first challenge to the Damages Act in January last year, prompting the latest appeal.
The judges said today that the insurers’ claim was not consistent with Common Law and it interfered with people’s rights under European human rights laws.
Joe O’Neil, treasurer of Clydebank Asbestos group, said: “ This is a great result. Because of the waiting time it has been a very distressing period for our clients.
“There are hundreds of people waiting for compensation, which have been held up for years because of appeals. We can now look forward to these claims moving forward.”
Frank Maguire, senior partner with Thompsons Solicitors, who represent 90% of Scottish pleural plaques cases, said: “This is a great day for democracy and a triumph for justice over insurers trying to avoid their responsibilities.
“The insurers now have to do the decent thing and no longer delay payments for wrongful conduct in exposing employees to asbestos exposure by employers and thus prolonging the victims’ agony.
“We have almost 1000 clients who are living testimony to the real and damaging effects of living with pleural plaques. They deserve just compensation.”
Source : Evening Times