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Supreme Court ruling gives green light to NI asbestos compensation law

The decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss 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) will enable a similar Act in Northern Ireland to come into force.

People with asbestos-related pleural plaques will again be able to bring claims for compensation once the Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) Act (NI) 2011, which received Royal Assent in June, gets its Commencement Order.

Derek Kane of Thompsons Solicitors NI said: “We welcome the statement by the Northern Ireland Attorney General that it will now be possible to move forward on a sound legal basis following the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court recognised the democratic right of the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate for the benefit of its citizens. The rights of people in Northern Ireland whose lungs have been damaged by asbestos due to the negligence of their former employers – a right denied by the insurance industry in pursuit of its commercial interests - will soon be restored.

“It is however deeply regrettable that people in England and Wales suffering from the same condition continue to have no remedy due to the failure of the Westminster government to act.”