Thompsons Solicitors and asbestos campaigners have welcomed a judgment by the UK’ s supreme court reinforcing victims’ rights to compensation.
The Court rejected an appeal against compensation awarded to relatives of two women from Merseyside who died after suffering malignant mesothelioma after through being exposed to small doses of asbestos dust.
Frank Maguire Thompsons Senior partner said: “These cases were a direct attack on asbestos disease victims.
"The defendants were trying to change the law that has been working perfectly well for many years so that fewer people who are dying can get properly compensated."
“The Supreme Court decision is welcome restatement of the existing law, which has served us well for many years.
“It will reassure many of our clients who have suffered low levels of exposure to asbestos, who now have a better chance of securing the compensation they deserve.
“As the court recognised even minimal exposure can be all it takes to trigger mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers”.
Hope Robertson, Secretary of Clydebank Asebstos Group said: “This judgment is tremendously good news. It will reassure a lot of people and make it easier for them to win their cases.
“I know it will affect a lot of people. I had a woman who came in to see me only a couple of days ago who was exactly the sort of person the judgment was talking about.
“We are really pleased that the judges rejected this attempt to water down the rights of victims.”
One of the women who died, Dianne Willmore, from North Wales, was exposed to the asbestos while a school pupil, and died in 2009, aged 49 - the first case of its kind involving a school pupil.
She died the day after a judge ruled she was entitled to £240,000 compensation.
The other victim Enid Costello was exposed to asbestos at work as a secretary at a packaging factory on Merseyside. She died in 2006, aged 74.
The council and Mrs Costello’s employers had argued they could only be held liable if it could be proved they were responsible for causing exposure to asbestos that had at least "doubled the risk" of mesothelioma.
But all seven Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected the argument, ruling there was no requirement for a claimant to show a doubling of risk.
They said that the test as to whether or not a person should be compensated should remain as the ‘material contribution’ test and not a ‘doubling of the risk’ test as the Council and employers had suggested.
Even though medically, there is no minimum threshold dose of asbestos below which there is no risk of mesothelioma, the Law Lords had been invited to make a decision as to where the legal line should be drawn, what the legal threshold is.
That makes it an extremely important judgment for anyone who has small doses of asbestos exposure and get mesothelioma.