Pleural plaques appeals
The Court of Appeal today allowed the appeals of several defendant insurers, which had argued successfully that pleural plaques claimants should lose their previous right to compensation for their asbestos-related disease.
The Court of Appeal judges were not unanimous in their views.
Lord Phillips (Lord Chief Justice) and Lord Justice Longmore found for the insurers. Lady Justice Smith disagreed and found for the claimants.
The Court of Appeal, unusually, granted permission for the claimants to present petitions of appeal to the House of Lords.
The appeal process in the House of Lords could, however, take many months to conclude.
Today's ruling by the Court of Appeal will affect all current pleural plaques claims.
The Court of Appeal decision is binding on the courts, which determine such claims, and trial judges will not award compensation to pleural plaques claimants whilst the Court of Appeal decision stands.
Any claimant who has pleural plaques but has not issued a claim in court may be prevented from doing so.
Those claimants with claims already commenced in court may be forced to suspend the progress of their claims until the House of Lords gives its judgment on the appeals.
Pleural plaques lawyer comments
Roger Maddocks, a partner and pleural plaques legal expert at Irwin Mitchell in Grey Street, Newcastle, which is representing over 200 sufferers, said:
"If the House of Lords does not reverse its decision then any outstanding claims for compensation would have to be discontinued.
"This would leave claimants uncompensated and facing the fear of developing a more serious asbestos-related disease at some time in the future.
"It is important, however, that anybody who is diagnosed with pleural plaques should continue to seek proper legal advice.
"Pleural plaques can easily be confused with other more serious asbestos based conditions which may still be subject to compensation."