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Insurers launch judicial review against Scottish Damages Act

A judicial review was today lodged by a group of insurers against The Damages (Asbestos-related conditions) (Scotland) Act.

The Act makes pleural plaques a compensatable condition in Scotland, despite the fact that plaques are symptomless, and do not impact on health or lead to asbestos-related diseases.

It overturns the decision of the House of Lords in the case of Rothwell in 2007.

The insurers bringing the action – Aviva, AXA Insurance, RSA and Zurich – represent over half the employers’ liability insurance market.

Insurers oppose the Act as it:

- Ignores overwhelming medical evidence that plaques are symptomless and do not cause asbestos-related conditions, such as mesothelioma.

- Overturns a fundamental UK legal principle that compensation is payable only where physical harm has been suffered through negligent exposure to a risk.

- Fails to assess fully the financial impact on Scottish firms and taxpayers

- Could lead to a rise in claims from people exposed to a risk, but having no symptoms. This would mean higher insurance costs for all firms and damage the economy.

Nick Starling, ABI’s director of general insurance and health, said:

“Insurers have not taken this action lightly. But as the Act is ill conceived, ignores the fundamental legal principle of negligence and clear medical evidence, they feel they have no choice.

“Insurers remain committed to paying compensation to those negligently exposed to conditions that impact on their health. But the industry is fundamentally opposed to any move that will extend compensation to those exposed to a risk but not suffering any symptoms, such as pleural plaques.”