Insurers wait for landmark ruling

Insurers are braced for a decision on whether pleural plaques qualify for compensation in Scotland.

An judicial review of the Scottish government’s decision to make the asbestos-related condition compensatable opened last week at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, and is expected to close next Friday. A decision could come the following week.

In his opening comments, Richard Keen QC, representing leading insurers AXA, Aviva, RSA and Zurich, said that the Scottish legislation was “unreasonable, irrational and arbitrary”.

Insurers argue that they should not have to pay out to victims of pleural plaques because they are harmless and there is no evidence linking them to other asbestos-related conditions such as mesothelioma.

They are watching the Scottish case closely. If the review fails, they fear the British government could follow in making the condition compensatable, at a potential cost of hundreds of millions of pounds.