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    The House of Lords unanimously ruled today (17.10.2007) that those diagnosed with symptomless pleural plaques, with or without accompanying anxiety or psychiatric illness, cannot be compensated in negligence actions against former employers who unlawfully exposed them to asbestos dust.


    This long awaited judgment will disappoint thousands of workers diagnosed with pleural plaques.


    The judgment was based on a finding that pleural plaques were not harmful in themselves and did not give rise to any harmful physical effects, caused no symptoms nor in themselves increased the risk of future asbestos-related conditions such asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma.  The risk for these diseases arose from the unlawful exposure to asbestos dust not from the pleural plaques.


    One of the Law Lords, Lord Hope, expressed “regret” that the decision left the claimants without a remedy and Lord Scott commented that depriving the claimants of any remedy in law, when the employers had admitted negligence, struck a “discordant note”.


    It remains to be seen if the government will legislate to overturn the effects of this decision as it did last year by passing the Compensation Act 2006 following the House of Lords adverse judgment against claimants in the Barker -v- Corus case.


    Should you have any queries you are welcome to contact our Asbestos Claims Unit.

    Humphreys & Co are pleased to support the North Bristol NHS Trust Mesothelioma Research Fund