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Supreme Court Judgment Victory for Asbestos Victims

The families of mesothelioma victims, Asbestos Support Groups, Trades Unions and Claimant Solicitors have welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court in the "trigger" litigation. The Court have reached the decision that it is the insurer on risk at the time of exposure to asbestos who carries the liability for the damage caused. 

The claim arose because of a dispute about the wording of insurance policies and their interpretation. A group of insurers had argued that liability to pay compensation should vest with the insurers on risk at the time that any subsequent disease developed or became symptomatic.

The implications of these arguments were profound for sufferers of mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining around the lung or abdomen which is caused by asbestos exposure). Mesothelioma can develop as many as 40 - 50 years after exposure to asbestos and may exist without causing symptoms for several years. It is a difficult cancer to treat with a poor prognosis following diagnosis.

In some cases there were different insurers on risk at the time of exposure and development of the illness. In other cases companies (and therefore) insurance ceased to exist by the time the illness developed. The challenges brought by the insurers in this case left many Claimants and their families uncertain as to their ability to recover compensation for their illness. The case, which commenced 5 years ago, has delayed the payment of awards to many Claimants.

Welcoming the award, Derek Louw of the CNCI Team said "Insurers have contested this matter on the pretext of seeking clarification on the meaning of wording within their policies. The reality for victims of mesothelioma is that the case has delayed compensation and deprived them of security and comfort as they face this terrible illness. We welcome the Court's ruling and hope that Claimants are able to recover compensation without delay".