The Supreme Court today dismissed an appeal brought by UK insurers who challenged the lawfulness of an Act of the Scottish Parliament (The Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009).

In unanimously rejecting the insurers’ appeal the Supreme Court delivered a ringing endorsement of the Holyrood legislation which preserves the right of people with pleural plaques in Scotland to sue for compensation. The Court accepted that Scottish pleural plaques sufferers were directly affected by the insurers’ legal challenge and had a right to object. The legislation was said to serve a legitimate social policy aim and was a proportionate means of doing so. The insurers were wrong to complain that the Act was an unreasonable, irrational and arbitrary exercise of legislative authority.

Ian McFall, head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons Solicitors', said: “This decision recognises the democratic right of The Scottish Parliament to legislate for the benefit of its citizens. In Scotland the rights of people with pleural plaques are more important than the commercial interests of insurers, which is how it ought to be. The Northern Ireland Assembly has approved a Bill in similar terms to Scotland. Meanwhile nothing has changed for pleural plaques sufferers in England & Wales. The failure of the Westminster government to act leaves it isolated. Only the discredited arguments of insurers and politicians could attempt to justify why people in Scotland and Northern Ireland whose lungs have been damaged by asbestos are entitled to compensation while those suffering from the same condition in England & Wales are left without a remedy”.