Insurers Lose Supreme Court case enabling resumption of Asbestos claims

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Today, the Supreme Court has given unequivocal support to the asbestos compensation law. Supreme Court judge Lord Hope today threw out an appeal by insurance companies to scrap the right of people in Scotland to sue for an asbestos-related condition.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court dismissed the case of insurers which will enable people with pleural plaques to claim compensation.

Some 5 years ago, the House of Lords ruled that victims shouldn’t be able to claim compensation, but the Scottish government disagreed and the Scottish Damages Act was passed in 2009, allowing claims to be made – with the likely cost estimated at between £7m and £9m.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said insurance firms must now recognise the law, but industry body the Association of British Insurers maintained the Damages Act was flawed.

It should be noted that Pleural plaques is not in itself a disease. It has no symptoms, but is the thickening of tissues within the lungs and is as a result of exposure to asbestos.

Many, including the Scottish Ministers were of the view that pleural plaques is likely to give rise to serious health issues including lung cancer, mesothelioma or asbestosis.

Rather unsurprisingly, the Insurance firms launched an onslaught against the legislation, alleging it infringed on human rights laws.

Todays Supreme Court ruling dismissed an appeal by several insurance companies – including AXA – against the April decision by Court of Session judges in Scotland, who rejected argument that the legislation was unlawful.

The Supreme Court ruled that it could not be said that the “judgment of the Scottish Parliament was without reasonable foundation”.

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