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Court Of Appeal Considers Judgment In Trigger Litigation

Mesothelioma Case


For the next three weeks the Court of Appeal will be considering last year's judgment in six test cases that determined insurers could not reject claims by mesothelioma sufferers who had been exposed to asbestos during employment.

The appeal will consider the judgment handed down by Mr Justice Burton last year in a group of cases collectively known as the Employer’s Liability Insurance Policy “Trigger” Litigation.

The High Court battle ensued after a Court of Appeal ruling in 2006 decided that the mesothelioma injury did not occur until the cancer had emerged. Until this time, practice across the insurance industry had been for the insurer who provided the policy to the employer at the time an employee was wrongfully exposed to asbestos, to pay the compensation due. 

Although this Appeal Court decision related to a different form of insurance (covering members of the public who suffered injuries) and considered different clauses within the policies,  four insurance companies decided to argue that the same contractual interpretation should apply to the clauses used in their  employer’s liability insurance policies. Last year, Mr Justice Burton announced that this argument was not upheld.
Represented by Irwin Mitchell, Ruth Durham (pictured below with her father), whose father died of mesothelioma after he was negligently exposed to asbestos, was the lead test case during the trial. Leslie Screach initially contacted industrial disease specialists at the firm in April 2003 when he became ill because of the work he had done as a paint sprayer for G & C Whittle Ltd, based in Chiswick, West London from 1963 to 1968. Following his death in November 2003 aged 73; Ruth continued the claim on his behalf.

The hearing at the Court of Appeal is listed for three weeks, concluding on November 27 and a decision is expected to be handed down in the New Year.