Challenge to overturn bill is rejected

Insurers have been defeated in their challenge to overturn The Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Bill, which came in to force last year.

The law overturned a House of Lords ruling that damages could not be claimed for plaques, which is not classed as a disease and has no symptoms.

AXA, Aviva, RSA and Zurich claimed pleural plaques – symptomless growths on the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos – should not be compensated.

It is claimed that in his 151-page judgement, Lord Emslie decided certain issues in the favour of the insurers, but rejected the challenge in its three main arguments.

According to STV, while expressing some sympathy for their position, he dismissed the application on a number of grounds

He said that the petitioners - as insurers - are not actually parties to any affected court proceedings and that the Act does not relevantly interfere with pending actions anyway and that the new legislation can in any event be justified on what the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg terms “compelling grounds of the general interest."

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said insurers should think twice about launching an appeal against the ruling by the Court of Session in Scotland.

MacAskill told the BBC: "The Scottish government believes that the legislation is right in principle and right in law and has been unequivocally upheld.

"I firmly believe that people with pleural plaques should be able to raise a claim for damages and I am pleased that this decision has gone in their favour.

"I sincerely hope that the insurers will now carefully reflect on what Lord Emslie has said and abandon any plans they have to raise an appeal in the Inner House."

However, insurers are considering an appeal, according to the ABI: Insurers 'seriously considering' plaques ruling appeal.