Quoted from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/families-win-landmark-ruling-on-600m-asbestos-compensation-7584590.html
Families win landmark ruling on £600m asbestos compensation
Supreme Court victory for IoS campaign to force insurance industry to honour victims’ claims
Sunday 25 March 2012
Thousands of families whose relatives were killed by asbestos cancers will win a landmark compensation victory this week, sources have told The Independent on Sunday. The Supreme Court will rule on Wednesday that insurers who offered cover at the time victims inhaled the deadly fibres will have to pay compensation.
Four insurance companies have been fighting to minimise payouts to 6,000 families who have a member who has died or is suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos. Once the court rules against the insurers, the compensation bill could be in excess of £600m. If you include future claims that will be brought, up to 25,000 families could be affected by the ruling, pushing the potential bill to £5bn.
The Independent on Sunday has been campaigning since 2009 for insurance companies to pay out to victims whose firms they supposedly covered when they were negligently exposed to asbestos dust.
The test case, which has gone to the High Court and the Court of Appeal, has been running since 2006 and is one of the most protracted in legal history. Most of the cancer patients affected by its ruling have now died, and it is their relatives who have been waiting on the result.
Asbestos exposure is the biggest killer in the British workplace, causing more than 4,000 deaths every year – more than road traffic accidents. The fibres can be in a person’s lungs for half a century before causing cancer, so that deaths in the UK are not expected to peak until 2016.