Insurers lose attempt to invalidate legislation giving pleural plaque victims right to seek compensation

A judge has turned down a bid by insurers to invalidate Scottish asbestos legislation that gives people exposed to asbestos a right to claim compensation.

After a 22-day hearing at the Court of Session in Scotland, Lord Emslie ruled against UK insurers.

The insurance firms had sought a judicial review of the 2009 Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions)(Scotland) Act, in order to prevent sufferers of the asbestos-related illness, pleural plaques, from seeking compensation.

The Holyrood law overturned a ruling made by the House of Lords, which had prevented sufferers of pleural plaques - a benign scarring of the lungs – from seeking damages. The Lords had said ruled the illness was symptomless and could not be classed as a disease.

Yet the Scottish court found that, as pleural plaques could lead to an increased risk of developing mesothelioma - a tumour covering the lining of the lung – sufferers of the illness could seek compensation.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said he was happy with the ruling made against UK insurers, including AXA General Insurance, saying the move was “right in principle and right in law”.

Nick Sterling, ABI director of General Insurance and Health, said insurers were “disappointed” by the judge’s ruling and are now “considering carefully this judgment, and are seriously looking at the grounds for an appeal against it.”