High Court decision helps to establish Asbestos victims’ work history

15th July 2014

High Court decision helps to establish Asbestos victims’ work history

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Individuals who have contracted mesothelioma (an aggressive and fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres) need to be able to prove that their employment and working conditions were the cause of their illness if they are to successfully claim compensation for their injury.

The fact that the symptoms of the disease may not come to light for many years – often decades – after they left the employment in question can cause practical problems in establishing a causal link, especially when trying to trace which employer might be responsible for the asbestos exposure.

In order to protect the rights of mesothelioma victims, legislation enables coroners to serve notices requiring disclosure of information to establish the source of the asbestos exposure.  Working environments are the most likely source and so piecing together the victim’s occupational history is of utmost importance.  In one recent case, having discovered that a man’s death was asbestos-related, a coroner required HM Revenue & Customs to disclose the deceased’s tax records.  HMRC refused to comply on the basis that the request would breach the fundamental principle of taxpayer confidentiality as well as a statutory prohibition on the disclosure of tax records.

The High Court decided that relevant occupational histories – sometimes going back many years – were in a large number of cases only ever going to be practically discernable from tax records. The powers given to Coroners were designed to assist victims and families of victims of the disease and that consequently HMRC had to comply and produce the information.

Any measure that helps to trace past employers and their insurers will be welcomed by claimants and their representatives alike.

Our personal injury team has considerable experience in dealing with claims on behalf of victims of mesothelioma.  You can have the comfort of knowing we have a proven track record in this area and that we will fight hard to ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us on 01473 298125 or email [email protected]

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