Irwin Mitchell asbestos lawyer welcomes PMs support to reverse Lords decision on compensation for Mesothelioma sufferers

Asbestos lawyers welcome prime minister's pledge

13.06.2006

Leading lawyers in the field of industrial diseases, Irwin Mitchell, have welcomed the Governments pledge to look afresh at the judgement from the House of Lords on May 3rd of this year, which found in favour of Corus UK Ltd. The judgement was successful in denying widow, Sylvia Barker, the full mesothelioma compensation which had previously been awarded by a court for the death of her husband Vernon, a former employee at Shotton Steelworks in Deeside in the 1960s.

The Prime Minister Tony Blair said today during his speech at the GMB conference "I regret the judgement. I'm looking to see the best opportunity for us to change the asbestos ruling. He added "I hope we will be able to announce something on this in the next couple of weeks."

The judgement in May has meant that victims of mesothelioma do not get full compensation through the courts unless they are able to successfully sue all of their former employers who exposed them to asbestos. Negligent employers will not be liable to pay 100% compensation if other culpable employers have gone out of business and their insurers not found. In some instances insurers may have failed to keep records, and in some cases destroyed them, making it impossible to recover for some periods of asbestos exposure where employers have gone out of business.

Leading UK asbestos lawyer comments

Adrian Budgen, leading asbestos lawyer and Head of Industrial Diseases Group at Irwin Mitchell said We thoroughly welcome the Prime Ministers comments today. The Barker judgment from the House of Lords has punished the Cancer sufferer whilst saving money for negligent companies and their insurers.

Following the Barker Judgement unless you can sue all of the companies that exposed you to asbestos you are not able to get full compensation anymore. The benefit of the doubt is being given to companies who are guilty of negligence. If you had two employers who exposed you to asbestos negligently for an equal length of time and one of them has gone out of business by the time you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, and did not have insurance cover, you will get half the compensation than if you only had one employer who exposed you to asbestos.

Mr Budgen continued The Barker Judgement means that people with only months to live, and their families, lose out through no fault of their own. Even in cases where insurance companies can be traced, this judgement means cases can often take much more time than the victim has left to live.

Given the length of time symptoms from asbestos exposure take to manifest, which in the case of Mesothelioma is between 10 and 50 years, many of the other equally negligent companies will have gone out of business.

Caused in the UK exclusively by exposure to Asbestos, Mesothelioma is incurable and invariably fatal within 1-2 years of diagnosis. It is estimated that there are close to 2000 deaths from Mesothelioma a year in the UK.

The number of deaths in the UK due to mesothelioma has increased almost threefold over the 20 year period from 2,787 in 1981-85 to 7,476 in 1996-2000 and has not yet peaked.

Asbestos related illnesses take the lives of over 4000 people each year in the UK, greater than the number of people killed in road traffic accidents.

The last 6 years have seen a series of generic challenges by employers and their employers liability insurers, all with the aim of cutting compensation payments to asbestos victims.

Can we help you? If you think you or someone you know has a claim, our asbestos lawyers may be able to help - visit our asbestos disease claim section.