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.
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.
– Maureen Edwards, daughter of Charles O'Farrell who died in 2003
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.
Relatives of workers who died of an asbestos-related cancer have won a fight for compensation. The Supreme Court has ruled that insurance liability was "triggered" at the time mesothelioma victims were exposed to dust.
Specialist solicitor Helen Ashton, who works for law firm Irwin Mitchell, and is representing one of the lead claimants, said she hoped the Supreme Court could "provide clarity".
The litigation concerns the appropriate trigger for employers' liability insurance policies in relation to asbestos-related mesothelioma claims where the wording of the policy requires injury or disease to an employee to be 'sustained' or 'contracted' during the period of insurance.
The case is set to impact on thousands of mesothelioma claims in the future which, given the predicted number of cases to emerge, is estimated to be worth over £100 million to the insurers involved in the litigation."