Asbestos victims' payouts cut

COMPENSATION payments to asbestosis victims and their families will be slashed in the future following a judgement by Law Lords today.The House of Lords upheld three test appeals, brought by company insurers, in which it was argued that damages awards should be limited in cases where someone had had several different employers and it was not clear which one could be specifically blamed for the onset of asbestosis.

COMPENSATION payments to asbestosis victims and their families will be slashed in the future following a judgement by Law Lords today.

The House of Lords upheld three test appeals, brought by company insurers, in which it was argued that damages awards should be limited in cases where someone had had several different employers and it was not clear which one could be specifically blamed for the onset of asbestosis.

The decision will affect compensation claims running into millions of pounds.

Ipswich man Harry Horsley, a former worker at the Cliff Quay power station, received compensation for damage to his lungs in 1999.

He is outraged with the decision and the impact it could have on people who need to claim in the future.

He said: “I feel like I was one of the lucky ones getting my claim sorted out a few years ago.”

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Mr Horsley, 70, of Whinchat Close, Ipswich, added: “This has just moved the goalposts once again.

“I think the government should introduce some sort of legislation so that there is a standard compensation payout for people who have been affected.”

The leading test case today concerned Sylvia Barker, 58, of Holywell, Flintshire, who was awarded £152,000 in the High Court three years ago for the death of her husband, Vernon.

Mr Barker died, aged 57, in 1996. He had worked for John Summers and Sons at the Shotton steelworks on Deeside.

He was exposed to asbestos while he was employed there as well as for another company and for short periods during 20 years of self-employment.

Mrs Barker's damages will now be reassessed by the High Court to reflect the proportion of blame attributable to his time with Summers rather than 100 per cent liability for his illness and death.

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