A Supreme Court ruling could lead to thousands of compensation claims by relatives of workers who died of an asbestos-related cancer.
The ruling was the culmination of a long battle by families of victims of mesothelioma and marked the end of one of the most complex litigation cases yet to go through the UK courts.
The case centred around how, when and which insurers should respond to the personal injury claims of mesothelioma victims that had previously been heard in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Judges ruled insurance liability was “triggered” when employees were exposed to asbestos dust – not when symptoms of mesothelioma emerged.
The decision means the way is now clear for families whose relatives contracted and died from mesothelioma to claim compensation from their respective employers’ insurers.
Birmingham law firm Buller Jeffries acted for Zurich Insurance Plc in defending the traditional approach to dealing with employer’s liability disease claims and ensuring victims receive compensation.
Mesothelioma has been known to take up to 30 or 40 years to develop and it was this fact that led to the contention from a number of insurers that, by reason of the wording of their policies, there was no obligation on their part to compensate victims.
Relatives won the first round of their battle in 2008, when the High Court said firms’ insurers at the time workers inhaled fibres were liable. But two years later the Court of Appeal said in some cases liability was triggered when symptoms developed.
Derek Adamson, the partner who led the Buller Jeffries’ team representing Zurich said: “This is excellent news. It accords with the advice we have given to our clients throughout this case and is justification for the decision to appeal to the Supreme Court.”