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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

“Asbestos law: insurance industry on alert as to the approach to low-level exposure”

Over the past few years, “low level exposure” issues have loomed larger these days in both the US and the UK.  A then-current summary overview for the UK  is set out in an August 19, 2015 article from Hill Dickinson.

Much more recently,  the following headline popped up after a trial court ruling in a mesothelioma cases: “The insurance industry is on alert following the High Court ruling in Hawkes v Warmex Ltd [2018] EWHC 205 (QB).”  That’s the overall message provided in a 22 February 2018 online article from CMS Cameron. The Warmex opinion is online here. The following finding (albeit dicta) regarding  “low level exposure” to asbestos provoked the concern,  as explained by CMS Cameron:

“Most importantly, dealing with the ‘first limb’ of s.47, the judge accepted the formula laid down in Jeromson v Shell Tankers [2001] EWCA Civ 101, whilst strictly confining Williams v The University of Birmingham [2011] EWCA Civ 1242 to its context. He held that in determining breach of duty, the question is whether asbestos-related injury is foreseeable, rather than mesothelioma itself. He found that by 1946 to 1952, asbestos-related injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of exposure to asbestos dust even at low levels, and if the lining had been proved to contain asbestos, the defendant would have been in breach of its common law duty and s.47 of the Factories Act 1937.”

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