Glasgow solicitor petitions parliament over Fairchild ruling

The Scottish Parliament's justice committee will announce on 17 April whether it will introduce legislation to help asbestos victims overcome the obstacles introduced by the Fairchild case.

Glasgow solicitor Frank Maguire of Thompsons appeared before the committee in late March to present a petition containing a draft Bill and suggested judicial changes.

The High Court judgment on the Fairchild case is currently being appealed to the House of Lords, having failed in the Court of Appeal.

If the appeal fails again asbestos victims will not be able to win compensation from any employer if they worked for more than one employer in conditions that could have caused the asbestos-related diseases.

Maguire said it would be a disaster for Scottish asbestos victims if the House of Lords upheld the ruling.

He said the Civil Liability and Asbestos (Scotland) Bill he had presented to the committee would mean that, regardless of the outcome of the appeal, where two or more employers had contributed to a workers' asbestos injury, both could be sued.

"If you get an employer who exposes someone to asbestos and then another does it, they've both increased the risk and are both liable," he said.

Maguire said the committee would meet again on 17 April, when they would announce whether they would proceed with his Bill.

Scottish parliamentary committees are able to directly introduce legislation.

Maguire said he did not know whether the committee would support his Bill, but that he had received a "sympathetic" hearing of his petition.

Meanwhile, a former Navy electrician has been awarded $33.7m (£22.9m) in California's biggest asbestos payout.

Alfred Todak, who attributed his mesothelioma to several insulation, boiler and construction jobs he had in the 1960s and 1970s, sued several defendants.

If his award is not reduced on appeal, it will exceed the previous Californian record payout of $20.5m (£14.3m), awarded last year.