Pleural plaques sufferers who were exposed to asbestos whilst working in Scotland won a legal victory when the Scottish Inner House dismissed a challenge by insurers to the Scottish Parliament’s pleural plaques legislation.

A 2007 House of Lords decision ended compensation for those exposed to asbestos and suffering from pleural plaques. The Scottish Parliament legislated in 2009 to prevent the House of Lords decision from taking effect in Scotland. The legislation was challenged by insurers first in the Court of Session and then on appeal to the Scottish Inner House.

The Inner House dismissed the insurers’ challenge on the grounds that the Scottish legislation was in the public interest and was passed within the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The decision means those who were exposed to asbestos in Scotland, regardless of whether it was by a Scottish or English employer may still have a case for compensation. The Association of British Insurers has announced that insurers intend to appeal again to the Supreme Court to overrule the decision.

Nothing has changed for pleural plaques sufferers in England & Wales

Thompsons Solicitors, whose Scottish firm were involved in opposing the insurers’ challenge, welcomed the judgment.

Ian McFall, head of Thompsons Solicitors' Asbestos Policy said: “This important 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 recently passed similar legislation. Nothing has changed for pleural plaques sufferers in England & Wales and the Westminster government is now isolated by its refusal to act.”

He added that there will be a number of cases for people with pleural plaques in England and Wales who were exposed in Scotland. Anyone in this category should seek advice from Solicitors in Scotland without delay. Thompsons Scotland has been directly involved throughout the legislative and Judicial Review process and can be contacted on 0141 221 8840.