Claim Now

To ensure we give you the most tailored advice regarding your data breach enquiry, we kindly request that you complete our specialised enquiry form. You can access the form
by clicking on the following button: Click here

Click here to return to the previous window

With the impending Brexit deadline approaching, and the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal, what will the impact of a “No-Deal” Brexit be on asbestos use in the UK?

The UK is due to leave the European Union on at 11pm on 31 October 2019 with or without a withdrawal deal. This will mean that the UK will have to agree new trade agreements with the rest of the World, including the European Union itself.

One of the major concerns in this respect is that any negotiation of a new trade deal will bring about changes to the British economy, and the materials permitted as safe to be used in the country.

Donald Trump, the 45th US President, has regularly advocated for the use of asbestos products in America. In his 1997 book The Art of the Comeback, the future president wrote that asbestos is “…100 percent safe, once applied…” With his nomination as US President, Donald Trump has wasted no time in reintroducing asbestos back into the American economy. The product has now been reintroduced into construction within America, and its use has been evaluated on a case by case basis.

A likely hastily prepared post-Brexit trade deal with America that is likely to concede many issues to the Trump administration, could lead to the threat of asbestos containing materials reintroducing themselves to the British market, following the total ban on the import, manufacture and supply of asbestos that has stood since 1999.

The UK Government has said that there are contingencies in place for Health & Safety regulations governing the use of asbestos within the UK following a “No-Deal” Brexit. This can be seen with the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulations. REACH ensures that all existing health and safety regulation within the UK will continue to apply from 11:01pm on 31st October 2019 with or without a withdrawal agreement.

On the face of it, REACH is a process aimed at preventing the most dangerous chemicals and substances being used within the UK. However under this regulation, “the UK will not need to be legally committed to medium or long term regulatory alignment with the EEA”. This may lead to any future trade deals allowing the use of what may be deemed as a “dangerous substance”, such as asbestos.

Furthermore, one of the worries that a “No-Deal” Brexit will bring, is that the UK will default to the position found within s.69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. This provision amended the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to change the position that meant a breach of statutory health and safety law may not be used to make a successful civil compensation claim - rather the common law duty of reasonable care applies. If the UK was to lax regulations on the use of asbestos containing materials within its economy, it could mean a heavier burden of proof may fall onto claimants seeking compensation from their asbestos related condition.

On the face of it, the UK may have contingencies in the short to medium term that may protect against any changes to the use of asbestos within the country. However with many standard trade deals taking decades to agree, and the apparent impetuosity the UK and American governments have to buck that trend, it could mean that without careful consideration, asbestos may rear its ugly head again on British shores.

Blog by Paul Ramsay

Injured through no fault of your own?
Call us on
To see how much you could claim
Compensation Specialists
Our offices and meeting places
Talk to Thompsons
Claim Now