The High Court ruling makes clear that EL policies in force at the time of a claimants exposure will pay out

High Court decision delivers certainty for asbestos liabilities, according to lawyer.

Richard Mattick, counsel in the European insurance practice of Covington & Burling, commented: ‘This is a good result for corporate policyholders faced with claims for mesothelioma by employees exposed to asbestos long ago. It makes clear that the employers' liability (EL) policies that were in force at the time of a claimant's exposure to the asbestos will pay out, and there is no need to prove when the illness first developed.’

He added: ‘The decision means that employers should not be faced with the coverage black holes that the insurers fighting this litigation were threatening to create. It has introduced some much-needed clarity into the law in this area, although insurers have been given permission to appeal the decision, so it may not be the final word.’

‘The judgment effectively upholds the practice of the insurance market in relation to the payment of mesothelioma claims that was uniformly followed before the 2006 decision of the Court of Appeal in the Bolton case, and confirms that the Bolton case applies only to General Liability (GL) policies. Nevertheless, the case is relevant to mesothelioma claims under General Liability policies (which may yet increase) because the judge found that the starting point for the occurring of injury/disease in mesothelioma cases is five years prior to diagnosability, and not ten, as had been assumed as a result of the Bolton case.