Ruling to pave the way for more asbestos related claims

A landmark Court of Appeal ruling could pave the way for more claims by sufferers of asbestos-related diseases even if the exposure was once considered “too low”.

Craig Howell, partner at Birchall Blackburn Law and specialist in asbestos-related and industrial disease, said the outcome of the recent Carder v The University of Exeter case is not only good news for the individual but could now also benefit a much wider population facing asbestos-related lung conditions.

In Carder v The University of Exeter, lawyers for retired electrician Albert Carder, now 86, calculated his past employment at The University of Exeter contributed 2.3 per cent towards the cause of his asbestos lung disease.

The defendants in the case had argued that the proportion of exposure at the university was minimal and had made no discernible difference to his condition.

Lord Dyson, as Master of the Rolls, said that the severity of the disease had been increased by a “small, albeit not measurable” extent.

He had upheld a ruling made last July that Mr Carder was entitled to compensation from The University of Exeter. He said: “The judge was right to hold that Mr Carder was slightly worse off as a result of the 2.3% exposure for which the appellant was responsible.”

Mr Carder’s overall damages from his total exposure were assessed at £67,000, with The University of Exeter – where he had worked in boiler rooms from 1980 to 1994 – contributing £1,713.

An important aspect to the decision is that it allows a claimant to return for a further award of damages if at a later date he or she goes on to develop mesothelioma, which is an aggressive form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The case establishes an important insurance policy for a claimant that can allow them to secure a significant increase in compensation if they do develop the terminal lung cancer.

Craig Howell, partner at Birchall Blackburn Law and specialist in asbestos-related and industrial disease, said: “This is an important decision for asbestos victims, and means that even when a defendant has exposed their employee to a small percentage of his or her overall asbestos exposure, compensation can still be recovered. Defendants have been robustly defending these claims so the decision is very welcome in clarifying the legal position.”