Posted by Jennifer Seavor, Partner
New hope for mesothelioma and asbestos disease victims following Court of Appeal ruling
On Thursday 22 February 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in the case of Bussey v Anglia Heating. The outcome is a welcome one which will hopefully make it easier for many asbestos disease sufferers to recover compensation – including funding for immunotherapy treatment – which is not currently available on the NHS.
David Bussey was exposed to asbestos between 1965-1968 whilst employed as a plumber for Anglia Heating. He handled and cut asbestos cement pipes and used asbestos rope to caulk joints and was not provided with any breathing protection. At the age of 70 in 2014 he became unwell and was soon after given the devastating news that he had mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer caused by asbestos. David fought the disease but sadly lost his battle in January 2016.
His wife Veronica sought compensation. The claim was defended and at the initial trial in April 2017 it was unsuccessful. His Honour Judge Yelton found that David’s asbestos exposure levels fell below the level deemed unacceptable in a historic document published by H M Factories Inspectorate in 1970 called Technical Data Note 13 (TDN13).
TDN 13 set out the level at which the Factories Inspectorate would consider prosecutions. It has been used for several years by defendants to defeat the claims of those who developed mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos in the 1970’s.
Veronica appealed the decision and this week the Court confirmed that the levels detailed in TDN13 are a guide and not a benchmark which will apply in every case. Mrs Bussey’s claim has now been returned to the original judge for him to reconsider liability.
Comment on the court’s decision
Jennifer Seavor, an APIL accredited asbestos disease specialist solicitor at Royds Withy King said “Since 1965 following an article on the front page of the Sunday Times, it has been public knowledge that even low levels of exposure to asbestos could cause mesothelioma. However, since a 2011 when a case called Williams v University of Birmingham was decided, the insurers of companies that exposed their employees to asbestos have successfully used TDN13 as a defence to avoid paying compensation to some mesothelioma sufferers on the basis that they were not exposed, or could not prove exposure, to asbestos dust in excess of the levels outlined in the Factories Inspectorate document.”
“In reality though, many companies had no regard whatsoever to what level of asbestos they were exposing their employees to. They often failed to monitor or reduce exposure or even provide basic breathing protection.”
Jennifer commented “Sadly there is a legacy of asbestos disease due the use of asbestos products by tradesmen including carpenters, plumbers and electricians working in the building industry and in factories. However, we are also seeing a new generation of victims affected by asbestos disease including office workers, teachers and school pupils – who have often been exposed to lower levels of asbestos. I hope that this case will pave the way for current and future mesothelioma sufferers to gain access to justice and the compensation they undoubtedly deserve.”
Anyone affected by asbestos related illnesses can seek free advice by contacting Royds Withy King’s specialist asbestos team on
0800 051 8056 Email us