Litigation Letter

Mesothelioma success

In the six combined cases known collectively as the ‘Employers’ Liability Policy “Trigger” Litigation’ or the ‘ Durham cases’ [2008] EWHC (QB) 2692, the judge ruled that victims can claim against the employers’ liability insurance policies that were in place at the time of exposure to the asbestos-related cancer. He rejected the argument that victims should claim against the policy in place at the time the cancer developed. The gap between inhalation of asbestos fibres and the date the tumour develops can be as long as 40 years. The Solicitors Journal of 2 December quoted Daren Smith of Reid Smith, one of the 14 solicitors’ firms involved in the actions, as saying that around 9,000 people are believed to have died of mesothelioma in the UK up to 2003, and the current estimates put the annual number of deaths at between 4,000 and 6,000. The New Law Journal of 28 November quoted Peter Taylor of Lovells as saying: ‘The decision will be welcomed by victims and insurers alike as it removes some of the contradictions and unfairness that would have been wrought by a contrary decision. Those contradictions were said to be compelling the liquidators of the big insolvent asbestos liability insurers to take unpalatable positions on coverage, in a manner which was out of line with some 40 years of established market practice.’

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