Brian v G Ltd
We were instructed by the parents of Brian in a claim for damages arising from their son’s death, aged 48, from mesothelioma earlier that month.
No statement had been given by Brian, but we obtained witness evidence from former colleagues, which confirmed his having been exposed to asbestos dust, whilst working for G Ltd between 1966 and 1969. Brian made fireplaces, which involved cutting and fitting asbestos rope.
G Ltd was dissolved in 1982. Zurich Commercial responded to an enquiry we made under the Association of British Insurers Code of Practice for tracing insurers and confirmed that they were the relevant insurers. An Order restoring G Ltd to the Companies Register was obtained in April 2001. This allowed the claim to proceed against the company and court proceedings were issued in May 2001. The case was listed for trial in February 2003.
Some six weeks before then, Zurich Commercial wrote to say that having reviewed their papers they no longer considered that they were the relevant insurer. They declined to deal with the claim any further and their solicitors came off the record. The claimant was, therefore, faced with a dissolved company which had no assets and had no information about who the correct insurers were.
On 28 January 2003, we presented to the Court the claimant’s witness evidence and the Judge made an Order against G Ltd for damages to be assessed. This Order would, however, have no monetary value unless and until the correct insurers of G Ltd were identified.
We managed to locate the former company secretary and the typist/administrative assistant of G Ltd (a woman who is now 86 years of age). Both said that they recalled that the employer’s liability insurers of G Ltd at the relevant time were General Accident. After some persuasion, both were prepared to make witness statements to this effect. The successor to General Accident, Norwich Union, initially declined to accept that they were the relevant insurers, as we were unable to produce any documentary evidence in support. They did instruct solicitors, however. After their solicitors met the company secretary, Norwich Union were persuaded to accept that they were responsible for the claim. Settlement was achieved on a full liability value in December 2005.
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