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Supreme Court Hands Asbestos Victims Boost

A ruling in the Supreme Court has extended the protection for asbestos-related disease victims to include those working in any environment where asbestos was being processed

The current Asbestos Industry Regulations will now apply to all workers who have been working in an environment where asbestos was being processed, regardless of whether they have come into direct contact with it or not.

Lord Kerr, who passed the ruling, said: “It would be remarkable if the group to be protected was confined to those who were carrying out the process, but those who were at risk from exposure because of their proximity to it should remain unprotected.”

“Where the risk of injury arises from inhalation of dust or fumes (and of their nature, processes which generate these do not discriminate as to who inhales them), there does not appear to me to be any logical reason to exclude those employers who are liable to be affected by exposure solely because they do not actively work on the processes.”

The ruling was made on the back of the case of Percy McDonald, a Mesothelioma victim who sadly died at the beginning of the year after being exposed to asbestos when visiting Battersea Power Station as a lorry driver in the 1950s.

His claim for negligence was originally dismissed, but due to the Supreme Court’s ruling over the regulations, his widow has managed to overturn the verdict in the Court of Appeal and they have ruled that Mr McDonald should receive compensation.

Although this has occurred too late for Mr McDonald to see justice, it is a landmark victory for other asbestos victims who are in the same position.

Scott Rees and Co Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris WalkerScott Rees and Co’s Catastrophic Injury Partner, Chris Walker, heralded the ruling, saying: “This is a huge boost for those asbestos related illness victims who have or were facing being denied compensation that by rights they should be entitled to.”

“With disease such as Mesothelioma there is a very bleak outlook, other than to get justice against those who did not follow the correct health and safety guidelines and therefore through negligence caused the victims to go through so much suffering.

“Hopefully this ruling will open the door to other victims to get the compensation they need, so that they may have the right to as nice an end of life process as possible and to allow them to provide and support their families moving forward.”

The asbestos related disease, Mesothelioma is responsible for around 2,500 deaths each year and those figures aren’t showing signs of slowing down.

This is the second piece of positive news that the victims have had in a matter of weeks, after it was ruled that their exclusion of fixed recoverable costs should be retained, despite the efforts of the Justice Secretary to remove the exemption.

If you need advice in regards to asbestos related illness or any other workplace disease, visit our industrial disease section or call us on 0800 61 43 61 for further advice.

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