At London's Royal Courts of Justice today Mr Justice Burton handed down a hugely important decision regarding the trigger for employers' liability policies in the context of long tail asbestos diseases.
In In the Matter of the EL Policy Trigger Group Litigation, Durham v Thorpe Campbell Holdings Ltd & Others, Mr Justice Burton had to consider whether policies which were expressed to be triggered when injury was 'sustained' or 'occurred' were to respond in the same way as policies which used the phrase 'injury caused'. The latter has been treated as referring to the point in time when the employee was exposed to asbestos. Burton J held that policies which used 'injury sustained' or similar phrases should respond in the same way and were not triggered at the later point when the employee's tumour developed.
His decision preserves the status quo because 'injury sustained' policies have to date been treated in the same way as 'injured caused' policies by insurers. His decision means that employees and employers will continue to be covered in the way they always have been. It remains to be seen whether the defendants will seek to appeal or will accept the High Court's clarification of the law.