Confusion continues over the compensation of asbestos victims following the provisional liquidation of Chester Street Insurance Holdings.

Chester Street's liquidators will only be able to pay a percentage of claims made by customers.

And, although the Policyholders Protection Board (PPB) has promised it will top up claims to 100%, this applies only to illnesses contracted after 1972, when employers' liability became compulsory.

Thompsons solicitor in Glasgow, Frank Maguire, said he had 1,400 asbestos cases, with another 1,200 at Thompsons' Newcastle office. He estimated 75% of the cases were pre-1972. The total claims amount is £120m.

Maguire has questioned the actions of Iron Trades Employers Insurance Association, which transferred all its assets and liabilities to Chester Street Insurance Holdings in 1997. In 1999, Chester Street sold its 100% shareholding in Iron Trades Insurance to Australian insurers QBE for £175m.

Maguire said these moves should have been monitored by the secretary of state under the Insurance Companies Act 1982.

PPB claims manager Roger Clements said he did not know how many asbestos cases Chester Street had, nor the number of pre-1972 cases or the total amount of the claims. But he said some people may not be fully compensated.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA), which will not be taking part in any compensation discussions, said the authority was involved in the liquidation but unsure of the fate of the pre-1972 claimants.

“It's clear the pre-72 issue is not very exact,” an FSA spokesman said.

Chester Street chief executive Phillip Grant declined to comment.