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Law changes: Asbestos liability in the U.K.

Posted On: Mar. 11, 2007 12:00 AM CST

Fairchild v Dovener, Wassingtons and Leeds City Council [2002]

  • The Fairchild decision enabled a worker who had contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at different times by more than one employer to sue any of his former employers regardless of whether or not he could prove on the balance of probabilities which exposure had caused the disease. The court noted that mesothelioma can be caused by ingesting a single fiber of asbestos.
  • Barker v Corus [2006]
  • The House of Lords, the United Kingdom's highest appellate court, ruled that an employer found to be liable under the Fairchild principles will only be liable for a proportion of the damages, measured by reference to the extent to which he has contributed to the risk of injury if a claimant has been exposed by more than one employer. The amount each employer would have to pay would be based upon the length of time they exposed the employee to asbestos.
  • In late 2006, the U.K. Department for Constitutional Affairs amended the Compensation Act to effectively reverse the Barker judgment. The amendment enables victims, their estates or dependants, to claim full compensation from any party who negligently, or in breach of statutory duty, had exposed them to asbestos.