Litigation is becoming more and more like a game of snakes and ladders!
Earlier in the week I posted an article on EAD’s website about the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010 that finally came into force on 1st August 2016. That Act makes it possible to lodge claims directly against the insurance companies of defunct companies –
Although it will be a few years before victims see the full benefit of the act it is certainly a positive development and rare piece of good news.
So this was one of those ladders that don’t take you very far but at least keep you moving forwards. That is always the moment when you hit that scary snake that takes you right back to where you started. The ‘snake’ in this case it is the proposal by Companies House to destroy of the records of dissolved companies after 6 years rather than 20 years.
This does not sound particularly earth shattering. But it could change everything for victims of work related diseases. Such diseases take time to develop. I once acted for a man who had developed mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. He had first been exposed in the 1940s when working on the construction of railway engines. Asbestos related illnesses take many years to develop and it is a rare case that does not go back to the 1980s.
Workers who suffer from noise induced hearing loss have normally been exposed to high levels noise over a long period of time, often with a number of different employers. The same goes for vibration white finger, asthma etc. An essential part of the work is to build up a work history. A search will be lodged with HMRC to obtain details and dates of employment. These searches themselves take over a year but that is a rant for another day! But you still need to carry out company searches to identify the status of employers, their correct title and, in many cases, insurance details.
To limit the search to 6 years will remove one of the most important resources available to victims and their advisers. There is no logic to this or any justification. Why should the families who have lost loved ones because of exposure to asbestos at work be deprived of justice. And that is what the result of this will be.
This is a shocking proposal which should be opposed by anyone and everyone!