Barker ruling set to be overturned

Two leading UK politicians are preparing to overturn the Barker ruling using the Compensation Bill.

Lord Falconer, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, and John Hutton, Secretary of State for the Department of Works and Pensions ,will table an amendment to the Compensation Bill this week.

Lord Falconer said: "I intend to bring forward an amendment to the Compensation Bill to provide that in these [mesothelioma] cases negligent employers should be jointly and severally liable, so that the claimant can recover full compensation from any relevant employer.

"It would then be open to that employer to seek a contribution to the damages awarded from other negligent employers."

The ABI failed to persuade government to fund compensation paid to mesothelioma sufferers using taxpayer's money. It had proposed that an independent body be established to administer claims and work with insurers to settle compensation.

"We don't want the Compensation Bill to be amended," said an ABI spokesman.

But Hutton said: "Changing the Compensation Bill would bring a better chance of compensation for thousands of people who contract mesothelioma because they were exposed to asbestos at work."

Meanwhile, the MP leading the way for the asbestos lobby has been named as one of the 19 MPs on a Commons standing committee charged with examining the Compensation Bill.

Michael Clapham MP welcomed the government announcement. He said: "This will put the law back to where it was with the ruling in 2002."

' Insurers could face a tidal wave of personal injury claims following the landmark decision handed down by House of Lords this week.

In Horton vs Sadler, it was decided that claimants would no longer be bound to a three-year period in which to bring claims.

The reversing of the Walkley vs Precision Forgings (1979) decision could see the review of thousands of personal injury cases, opening up a black hole of claims for insurers.