A ruling by the Court of Appeal this month may result in thousands of people who suffer from “pleural plaques” as a result of being exposed to asbestos at their workplace, no longer being eligible for compensation. Pleural plaques is a thickening of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to cancer-causing, fireproof fibre asbestos. While for the last 2 decades compensation has been granted to claimants for the suffering endured due to the possibility that they may develop a serious illness, this week’s ruling of the Court of Appeal described this practice as “erroneous”, with medical evidence having shown that the development of pleural plaques does not have any detrimental effect on health, unlike other asbestos-related conditions, some of which can be fatal. Employers and their insurers should therefore not be held liable where employees are found to be suffering from pleural plaque, even where this was a result of exposure within the workplace. The ruling may potentially thwart thousands of future court cases involving pleural plaques or pleural thickenings. However, as the Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal, the case is to be taken to the House of Lords so there will be a further ruling on the matter. The ruling does not however affect cases involving the payment of compensation for more serious asbestos-related diseases.

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