(579) ASBESTOS COMPENSATION: SEWEL MOTION TO REVERSE BARKER v CORUS
ASBESTOS COMPENSATION: SEWEL MOTION TO REVERSE BARKER v CORUS
On 29 June 2006 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a Sewel motion consenting to the Westminster Parliament legislating in the devolved area of damages so as to affect Scots law (for the debate see http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-06/sor0629-02.htm#Col27047). As already noted (No 575), the UK Government intends to introduce an amendment to the current Compensation Bill, in effect reversing the recent decision of the House of Lords in Barker v Corus (see No 555). The Members of the Scottish Parliament had before them a draft of the proposed amendment, summarised thus by Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry (col 27049):
The effect of subsections (1) and (2) of the clause that the draft amendment will insert in the bill is to provide, in mesothelioma cases, that negligent persons are held jointly and severally liable for the damage caused by the disease. That means that the position will be as it was before the Barker ruling, and that claimants can claim for all damages from one liable party. Subsection (3) affirms the current position relating to contributions from other liable parties and to contributory negligence. The defender against whom damages are awarded can claim contributions from other liable parties as determined by the court. In considering the award of damages, the court may take any contributory negligence by the claimant into account. As I said, that provision is a reflection of the current position and does not change the law in those areas. The extent to which those provisions should have retrospective effect is still under discussion in light of European convention on human rights considerations.
Mr Henry also made it clear to members that the amendment before them is a draft and that