Municipal Mutual Insurance is one of four insurance firms involved in the asbestos legal action. In a statement it said:
Whilst the ruling does not reflect MMI's favoured outcome, we welcome the clarity this judgment brings as it enables MMI to determine the extent of its liabilities... It should be noted that MMI has continued to compensate local authority employers for mesothelioma claims, despite not being obliged to pay out claims until the outcome of the case was known.
Maureen Edwards, whose father died of mesothelioma, said she was delighted by today's ruling after a 'horrendous' fight for justice.
Leslie Screach died in 2003 after being exposed to asbestos fibres. Today his daughter Ruth Durham said she still had mixed emotions:
I am delighted to hear of the court's decision which will now see justice done for my father and the other mesothelioma sufferers. I was determined to see this through with a positive outcome for all those who, like my dad, suffered so terribly because of someone else's negligence. I miss him every day and no sum of money will ever bring him back or make up for what he went through.
Lawyer Helen Ashton said today's ruling provided "clarity and comfort" for families of mesothelioma victims. She represented the lead claimant in the case:
As well as the people currently directly affected by asbestos related disease, this judgment means that the thousands of people who are yet to be given the devastating news that they have the deadly illness will at least know that their families can get access to justice and receive the financial security they need. But the sad fact is that many victims of mesothelioma who have been awaiting the outcome of this appeal may not have lived long enough to know if their families will now receive the compensation they deserve.
The father of Maureen Edwards died of mesothelioma. Speaking after today's Supreme Court ruling she said no amount of money could compensate for such a 'horrendous death'.
– Maureen Edwards, daughter of Charles O'Farrell who died in 2003
All I ever prayed for was the right decision. This is the right decision. I am delighted for all those families who have been awaiting this result. My dad worked all his life and was hoping to enjoy retirement before mesothelioma took him away. There was never any question about who was to blame - all this long battle was about was insurers wanting to get out of paying. It is very difficult for us to understand the insurance industry's attitude to dying people, an attitude that the Government is going to make worse.
– Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary
This is a landmark ruling which will affect thousands of victims of asbestos. It is a disgrace that insurance companies went to such lengths to shirk their responsibilities. For callous insurers this means the responsibility holiday is over. Unite fought this case to the highest court to get justice for Charles, his family and all victims of asbestos. Justice for ordinary people and the ability of trade unions to bring these cases won't be possible if the Government succeeds in slamming the door to justice with their legal aid bill.
According to legal experts the ruling by Britain's highest court means that employers' insurers will have to pay compensation claims. Relatives of the victims want to make claims on policies from the late 1940s to the late 1990s. The legal fight began more than five years ago.
– Lord Clarke, The Supreme Court
The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the policy (insurance) period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer's obligation.