Bill to change liability for asbestos claims

The government is to rush through legislation to help cancer sufferers get full compensation from a negligent employer – even if it cannot be proved that the employer was solely responsible for their condition.

The move comes after families of workers, who contracted cancer as a result of working with asbestos, vowed to fight for a change in the law following the House of Lords ruling in May that employer liability for compensation should be limited.

The Lords upheld three test appeals in which it was argued that damages awarded should be limited in cases where the employee had worked for several employers, none of which could be specifically blamed for the onset of the disease.

However, Lord Falconer, secretary of state for constitutional affairs, has said the government will add an amendment to the Compensation Bill.

The changes will provide that, in these cases, negligent employers should be jointly and severally liable, so that the claimant can recover full compensation from any relevant employer.

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