Scottish Government to legislate on Asbestos

The BBC News website reports that the Scottish Government intends to pass legislation reversing a House of Lords decision on asbestos (for Scots Law only).

The decision in Johnston v NEI International Combustion Ltd [2007] UKHL 39 in October 2007 meant that sufferes of a lung condition called plural plaques (which is a scarring on the lungs caused by asbetos exposure) could not use this as the basis for a claim for damages in delict against their employer. The House of Lords ruled that it was technically not a disease as it is asymptomatic (other than physical scarring of the lungs).

The Minister for community safety, Fergus Ewing MSP, said:

Industries such as ship building and construction contributed to our nation’s wealth in the past.Sadly however these industries have also given many Scots a legacy which still impacts on their lives today through exposure to asbestos.

It is therefore right and proper that we should not turn our back on these people.

The Scottish Labour Party are backing the bill. At the time of the House of Lords ruling the SNP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats united to condemn the ruling.

There are no plans to introduce similar legislation for England and Wales. The bill that has been introduced by the Government is the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Bill.