The Court Of Appeal Has Ruled On Bussey v Anglia Heating Ltd
Expert asbestos-related disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have warmly welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow a widow to pursue a claim for damages following her husband’s death, even though the levels of his exposure to asbestos did not exceed those set out in technical documents.
The case was originally rejected as the widow could not prove her husband’s exposure had exceeded the acknowledged arbitrary prescribed limits in TDN 13 (HM Factory Inspectorate’s Technical Data Note).
Veronica Bussey appealed the decision, and the Court of Appeal has now found in her favour allowing her to seek damages from her husband’s former employer even though the asbestos exposure he endured was below the legal limits for a claim.
Adrian Budgen, head of the asbestos-related disease team at Irwin Mitchell and the legal specialist that represented the first environmental asbestos victim in the UK to be awarded compensation, said:
Expert Opinion“This is a very significant ruling from the Court of Appeal. Whilst it certainly does not open the floodgates or mean that everyone diagnosed with the disease is able to bring a claim, it does reset the employer’s duty of care to where it ought to be and was prior to the Williams v University of Birmingham case in 2011.
“It means that mesothelioma victims can take some comfort from the judgment that it was not acceptable for employers to take no steps to minimise levels of asbestos dust in the workplace, and simply to rely upon flawed data from the former Factory Inspectorate. It means that more victims and families will have a means of accessing justice when previously they may have been excluded from bringing a legal case.
“For those who lose a loved one to mesothelioma, the level of asbestos exposure does not matter to them. The fact that exposure occurred at all is enough to demand answers and to demand justice. The dangers of asbestos have been known for many decades but some employers continued to put people at risk of harm by not providing adequate protection.
“We very much welcome the findings of the Court of Appeal, that once a risk of injury was identified, employers ought to have taken steps to minimise risks of injury to employees. The judgment now means that many other victims of asbestos disease who find themselves in a similar position to David Bussey may now be able to access the justice they deserve.” Adrian Budgen - Partner
In 2015, Mr David Bussey developed mesothelioma and sadly died in January 2016. Six months after his death, his wife, Veronica, commenced legal proceedings for negligence and breach of statutory duty against Anglia Heating Ltd and Pump Maintenance.
Between 1965 and 1968 he was employed as a plumber by Anglia Heating Ltd. He later had a period of self-employment but in 1969/70 he went to work for Pump Maintenance Ltd, the second defendants in this case after Anglia Heating, until 1980.
Lawyers acting for Mr Bussey’s widow alleged that her husband had developed mesothelioma as a consequence of being brought into contact with asbestos during his employment with them. The claim against Pump Maintenance Ltd was settled shortly before trial.
The case against Anglia Heating however was rejected because Mrs Bussey could not prove her husband’s exposure had exceeded the permissible level of exposure to asbestos.