The Scottish Court has upheld legislation that maintains the right to compensation for pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland. In 2007, the House of Lords ruled that pleural plaques sufferers had no legal right to compensation as the "damage" was insufficient to be actionable in English law. Pleural plaques can develop after prolonged exposure to asbestos; however, they are generally a harmless scarring and do not lead to other, more serious, asbestos-related conditions. As we previously reported, the Scottish Parliament introduced legislation to overturn the effect of the House of Lords' decision in Scotland. The Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act came into force in June 2009.
Insurers (Aviva, AXA, RSA and Zurich) challenged the Scottish Act, seeking judicial review on a number of grounds, based on the common law and Human Rights legislation. The Scottish Court of Session, by a judgment of Lord Emslie handed down on 8 January 2010, rejected all of the insurers' challenges. Those insurers have indicated that they are considering an appeal.
The Scottish court noted that the estimates for the cost of compensating pleural plaques sufferers in Scotland range from £100million to £8.6billion; the higher figure was the top of the range put forward by the UK Government in 2008.
The UK Government is currently considering whether to legislate to restore the right to compensation for pleural plaques in the rest of the UK. Observers have speculated that whether the right to compensation in Scotland is upheld is a relevant factor in this decision.