New Judgment: Employers’ Liability Insurance “Trigger” Litigation  UKSC 14
28 Wednesday Mar 2012
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 1096
The appeals concerned the scope of the insurers’ obligations to indemnify employers against their liabilities towards employees who have contracted mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos.
On the correct construction of the insurance policies, mesothelioma was “contracted” or “sustained” at the moment when the employee was wrongfully exposed to asbestos. The Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance Act 1969 requires insurance on a causation basis, and the wording and purpose of these insurance contracts also points to liability arising at causation, rather than manifestation. By a majority, the special rule in Fairchild/Barker applied when determining whether an employee “sustained” or “contracted” mesothelioma during a particular policy period. The purpose of such policies was to insure the employers against liability to their employees. Once it was held that the employers were liable to the employees, it would be remarkable if the insurers were not liable under the policies.