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Court decision awaited

It is anticipated that there will be a Supreme Court ruling against insurers, which will mean victory for thousands of families with relatives who were killed by asbestos cancers. It will also include those who are suffering from mesoithelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos. Four insurance companies have been attempting to minimise payments to 6,000 families, of compensation that could be more than £600 million.

Should future claims arise it could result in up to 25,000 families being affected by the ruling, increasing the potential compensation payments to £5 billion. The ruling will relate to insurers who provided cover to victims at the time they inhaled the deadly fibres, due to negligent exposure. This is a test case that has progressed from the High Court to the Court of Appeal and has been active since 2006, making it one of the most protracted cases in legal history. Although the ruling will affect cancer patients, most of whom have died; it is their elatives who wait for the result.

The exposure to asbestos is recognised as the greatest killer in the British working environment and is the cause of more than 4,000 deaths each year. Asbestos fibres may remain in the lungs of a person for fifty years, before creating cancer. Therefore, resultant deaths are not expected to attain their peak until 2016.