An important asbestos papers judgement could have wide ranging support for asbestos victims.
The Asbestos Papers Case
A claim was heard in the Royal Courts of Justice between insurance companies who had previously paid compensation to dying asbestos cancer victims. These victims were employed by Cape Distribution Ltd and it’s subsidiary companies.
An argument was raised about sharing the costs of the compensation as it was their products which caused the diseases. In addition Cape knew more about the dangers of their products than they disclosed.
During the case a process called disclosure meant Cape had to disclose thousands of documents. These clearly showed what they knew about the dangers of exposure to asbestos.
At the end of the case the parties involved had a confidential agreement to destroy the documents.
The Asbestos Victim Support Group Forum challenged this. At a three-day hearing in the High Court in October they argued
- First of all there was public interest that the forum be given these documents. It was argued that they could help mesothelioma victims pursuing claims for compensation.
2. In addition it was also argued that the wider public interest to learn more about how Cape were involved in such wide scale asbestos exposure. The records would help inform about the state of knowledge.
A decision by Master McCloud agreed the forum had a real interest in seeing the documents. Therefore she granted judgement in their favour.
The support groups are rightly pleased about this. Because of this case the information revealed could help many thousands of people in the future.
A link to the support groups article is here http://www.asbestosforum.org.uk/index.asp
Asbestos Papers Judgment – our comment
There is an appeal to be heard in the case of BUSSEY on 23rd January 2018. That case involves talking about the knowledge of the dangers of asbestos. It will also deal with safe levels of asbestos as argued by defendants. If these documents are seen they could have far ranging impact. What large companies like Cape truly knew about asbestos will be very interesting.
Howard Bonnett, Director and Solicitor of Corries Asbestos team commented
“The Asbestos Victims Forum have done a great service to asbestos victims throughout the country.
The contents of these documents will make very interesting reading. I suspect there must have been a great deal more known about the dangers of asbestos than is admitted. I hope that the forum share this information so all asbestos victims are better armed when fighting for justice.
In conclusion the argument that Claimant’s must show hefty exposure to asbestos and meet artificial TDN limits will have to be looked at very closely. Opening this Pandora’s box is crucial. We know that even the smallest amounts of asbestos can cause cancers such as mesothelioma. Let us see how much these companies knew and put the onus on them”.