Scottish asbestos victims win legal battle
VICTIMS of an asbestos-related condition have won the right to be represented in the legal battle over the right to compensation, it was announced today.
Some of the UK's biggest names in insurance are fighting a new law in Scotland which gives victims of pleural plaques – a symptomless thickening of lung membranes – the right to seek damages.
The industry argues that the law contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights and insurers' "economic rights".
Solicitor advocate Frank Maguire, of Thompsons Solicitors, said victims will be represented when the case calls on May 26.
"We successfully argued on behalf of around a dozen of our pleural plaques clients that they have a right to be party to this very unusual action," he said.
"This means that we can represent the rights and interests of our clients directly while the Scottish Government defends the democratic process of the Scottish Parliament.
"I found it quite strange that the insurance companies who are raising the action – because they say it will cost them a lot of money if they have to pay out on pleural plaques claims – objected to the victims being involved despite the fact that our clients will be the very ones who will end up having no rights if they succeed."
The legal challenge to the new law was raised by Axa, Norwich Union, Royal & Sun Alliance, and Zurich Insurance after legislation was passed by MSPs in March.
The law overturned in Scotland a landmark House of Lords ruling that people with pleural plaques could not seek compensation.
Pleural plaques indicate past exposure to asbestos but does not in itself cause or develop into a more serious condition.
The Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions)(Scotland) Act restores the right to seek damages.
The latest move comes just weeks after Lord Glennie turned down a plea by the five big insurers who sought an interim interdict to prevent the law coming into force as planned on June 17.
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