Victim's anger at law lords ruling on Asbestos-related illness


The House of Lords has ruled that sufferers of an asbestos-related disease cannot claim compensation.

Yesterday's ruling rejected calls made by victims of pleural plaques, saying it is not technically a disease and they had not suffered a 'compensatable injury'.

Arnold taxi driver Dennis Archer, 56, who was exposed to asbestos for more than 29 years while working at a power station, said: "Although I almost expected it, I am really disappointed with this decision.

"It seems to me that the Law Lords, rather than overseeing the law, have focused on the cost implications for big businesses. They should have looked at the justice, or rather injustice, of this whole thing," he said.

With pleural plaques, thick scar tissue - caused by asbestos exposure - forms in the chest lining and diaphragm. Over time, this thickening makes breathing difficult and can be accompanied by respiratory diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Mr Archer's lawyer, Sarah Grogan, of Simpson Millar, said: "This is devastating news for the many thousands of innocent victims of asbestos and their families.

"A diagnosis of pleural plaques condemns a person to a lifetime of never knowing when a more serious condition is going to be diagnosed. This impacts on their loved ones as much as it does them."

The decision removes an established right to compensation which had existed for 20 years and will lead to "massive savings" for insurance firms, say unions leaders.

Mr Archer added: "Where is the justice?"

Jeremy Brooke, partner at Simpson Sissons and Brooke LLP, advised that sufferers should be clear on the specific condition they have as the ruling does not affect all asbestos-related conditions. If in doubt legal and medical advice should be sought and made clear, he added.

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