THOUSANDS OF people dying from asbestos-related diseases can now bring claims for compensation after a landmark ruling by five law lords on Thursday of last week. The judgement on three test cases is one of the most significant in the history of industrial disease.
The lawyers for the widows of two victims of mesothelioma-a form of asbestos-related terminal cancer-and a sufferer successfully challenged earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings. Those courts had ruled that compensation could not be paid in a case where a worker was exposed to asbestos dust by more than one employer.
The earlier legal rulings put the onus on claimants who were exposed to asbestos while working for more than one employer to prove which one was ultimately responsible for causing their condition. If the claimant was unable to do so their claim failed. Last week's decision overturns this ruling.
Judith Fairchild, widow of Arthur who died in 1996, said, 'We got the right result, not only for myself but for the thousands affected by this terrible disease. My husband deserved to win.'
She will get compensation of about £191,000, while an estimated 500 people's cases which were waiting for the ruling will now be settled. About 5,000 people died in Britain last year of asbestos-related disease. The figure is set to rise to 10,000 by 2010.