Patrick Madden, Solicitor from Madden & Finucane Solicitors welcomes today’s ruling by The UK Supreme Court in the case ofAXA General Insurance Limited and Others v The Lord Advocate and others.

The decision dismissed a bid by the insurance companies to scrap Scottish legislation which allows victims of pleural plaques to claim compensation. Pleural plaques is a medical condition which causes scarring to the lungs due to exposure to asbestos.

Mr Madden who represents a number of pleural plaques sufferers and who have ongoing civil actions states “This decision will come as a relief for families in Scotland who have been very patient waiting on this drawn out legal battle. These are ordinary working men and women who were negligently exposed to asbestos and they deserve to have their right to compensation restored.

Unfortunately, the equivalent legislation in this jurisdiction has not yet come into force. The Damages (Asbestos – Related Conditions) Bill (Northern Ireland) 2010 had been stalled due to the challenge of the Scottish legislation by the insurance companies.

The delay and ambiguity surrounding these actions has exacerbated the suffering.  Pleural plaques sufferers living in Scotland can now persue a claim against their former employers who exposed them to asbestos dust. Pleural Plaques sufferers in England and Wales benefit from measures introduced by the British government. Pleural Plaques sufferers in this jurisdiction are currently being deprived of any compensation until this legislation comes into force. Our clients have effectively become victims of a “post code lottery”.

We represent a number of families who have always had an understandable expectation that their claim would result in compensation and many had made plans accordingly. People had been able to bring claims for compensation for pleural plaques since the 1980s.

These families have been on tenterhooks since their actions came to a standstill. Some of the sufferers have since died.

Mr Madden has written to the Northern Ireland Assembly requesting that the assembly fast-track this legislation and show their commitment to people suffering from Pleural Plaques in this jurisdiction.