October 16, 2007 / 11:29 PM / 12 years ago

Law lords to rule on asbestos-related test case

LONDON (Reuters) - Victims of an asbestos-related disease will learn on Wednesday if they can claim compensation, in a legal ruling that could leave insurers facing claims for millions of pounds.

Five law lords will bring an end to a long-running series of hearings in which the victims are seeking the go-ahead to sue over their disease.

The test case focuses on “pleural plaques”, which can develop in the lungs of those who have been exposed to asbestos, and centres on the complex legal question of whether that condition can be viewed in the eyes of the law as an “injury” for which damages can be claimed.

Pleural plaques can, but does not always, develop into killer diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The High Court ruled in March 2005 that contracting pleural plaques did give rise to a claim for damages, but the employers involved challenged the ruling, which was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Appeal judges said that those suffering from pleural plaques had no automatic right to sue, even where the condition had been caused by negligence.

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