Scottish government will "vigorously defend legislation"

The planned legal action by a group of insurers over Scotland’s Asbestos Bill has prompted a defiant response from the Scottish government.

The Asbestos Bill, which makes pleural plaques compensable, gained Royal Assent on Friday. Pleural plaques are symptomless growths on the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

Insurers including AXA, Norwich Union, RSA and Zurich had said they would launch legal action as soon as the bill passed the final hurdle. They are being represented by legal firm Brodies.

Fergus Ewing, minister for community safety, said: “Despite the clear will of the Scottish Parliament, it seems some insurance companies may try to defeat it through a judicial review. I hope they will think better of it.

“But if they do challenge us, we will vigorously defend the legislation.”

He added: “We are confident our legislation is right in principle and right in law.”

The UK government is yet to decide whether sufferers south of the border will also be eligible for compensation.