Supreme Court Rules against Asbestos Legislation in Wales

Supreme Court Rules against Asbestos Legislation in Wales

The Supreme Court has ruled against a Welsh Assembly Bill providing for payment of certain NHS asbestos-related disease costs.

Specifically, it had sought to get employers and their insurance companies to cover the NHS costs of victims of asbestos-related diseases who they were liable to compensate more generally.

But objections had been made about this and so the Welsh Assembly Bill was referred by the Counsel General of Wales to the Supreme Court to decide if the Bill was within the legislative competence of the National Assembly of Wales.

The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill was specifically aimed at those who either made an asbestos compensation payment to victims or on whose behalf such a payment might have been made.

In effect, this was employers and insurers and it was hoped that this would be a valuable way of raising funds for the NHS in Wales and potentially improving the services which may be offered to asbestos and mesothelioma victims in particular.

But despite the good intentions of the Bill, the Supreme Court ruled that the Welsh Assembly didn’t have the power to make it.

In doing so, the majority of the Judges held that the Bill sought to impose what would in effect be new tortious or statutory duties on third parties. They also held that the Bill interfered with rights of compensators and insurers to peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.

Two of the Judges found against the Bill on narrower grounds than the majority although nevertheless did agree that the Bill as it stood was beyond the competence of the Assembly.

Whilst this won’t directly affect how much money the asbestos victims themselves would ultimately end up with as compensation, it has raised an interesting question as to how far the obligations of employers and insurance companies should go in paying for the treatment of asbestos-related diseases.

In other words should the asbestos disease treatments be funded by the public through taxation or by the wrong-doing employer or its insurer? Whatever you might think, the answer to that question has now been made clear in Wales.

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For a free consultation with an expert Asbestos Compensation Lawyer call Claims Direct 24/7 on freephone 0800 884 0321 or start an asbestos claim online and we will be happy to help.