ground-breaking case has cleared the way for hundreds of claims from people
suffering asbestos-related diseases.
ruling by five law lords has been described as the most significant in the
history of industrial disease.
test cases went before the court. They were taken by two widows whose husbands
had died of mesothelioma (a lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres,
which they were exposed to at multiple workplaces) and a man suffering from the
trio’s lawyers challenged High Court and Court of Appeal rulings which stated compensation
could not be paid in cases where a worker was exposed to the dust by more than
one employer. To bring a claim, workers had to pinpoint the individual employer
insurers will have to pay compensation – it is believed the change could cost
insurance companies billions of pounds.
5,000 people died in Britain last year of asbestos-related disease. The figure
is set to rise to 10,000 by 2010.