Eight former workers who were exposed to asbestos have had their compensation claims overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The workers claimed to have developed “pleural plaques” on their lungs but medical evidence indicated that the plaques did not have a detrimental effect on health, unlike other asbestos-related conditions.
Delivering his judgment, Lord chief justice Lord Phillips said: “The fact that negligence has produced a psychological change that is neither visible nor symptomatic, and which in no way impairs the bodily functions should not attract legal liability.”
The landmark ruling is a boost for the UK insurance industry, which could have faced claims totalling £1bn.
A spokesman from Norwich Union, one of the insurers involved in the case, said: “The issue of compensating claimants with serious asbestos-related conditions or who suffer from impairment as a result of exposure to asbestos has never been in question and they will continue to receive compensation.”