Sunday, June 08, 2008


A High Court case started this week with massive implications for those suffering from Mesothelioma - an Asbestos related Cancer which kills 2000 people per year with numbers rising. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres and can take 40-50 years to develop, meaning that workers who were exposed to Asbestos due to employer negligence in the 60s and 70s are often only now realising they have the illness.

The condition is incredibly distressing for all involved and the only consolation for those with the illness was that their families would be left with some financial compensation - due to past legislation and Trade Union campaigning. However, the insurance companies are constantly trying to undermine this legislation, desperately seeking any way to evade their responsibility.

Their latest attempt (and you do wonder how they sleep at night!) is to argue that their liability under the insurance policies they sold to negligent employers is only from when the illness "develops" - usually defined as ten years before symptoms start - rather than when the exposure occurred. As the time between developing and exposure can be 30 years and most victims will either be retired or at different firms and hence not covered by insurance - this would save the insurance companies hundreds of millions and leaving the bereaved families without a penny. As I say, how do they sleep at night.

Anyway, the test case is expected to last nine weeks and may end up in the House of Lords. My Union - Unite is vigorously supporting this test case and I will keep people informed as to developments.

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