AXA General Insurance Ltd & Others v The Lord Advocate & Others

Summary of Opinion issued by the Lord President, Lord Eassie and Lord Hardie.

The First Division of the Court of Session has issued its judgment in the above case, in which the petitioning insurers (AXA and Others) challenge the lawfulness of an Act of the Scottish Parliament – the Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009.  That Act provides that asbestos-related pleural plaques, and certain other asbestos-related conditions, constitute personal injury which is not negligible and is therefore actionable under Scots law.  This statutory provision in effect reverses, for Scotland, the decision of the House of Lords in Rothwell v Chemical Insulating Co Ltd.

The challenge was on two bases:  first, that the legislation was unlawful at common law and, secondly, that it infringed the insurers’ property rights under Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention of Human Rights.  The court has rejected the challenge at common law.  As to the challenge based on the Convention rights, it has held that the insurers’ rights are interfered with, but that in the whole circumstances that interference was justified.  It has, accordingly, rejected the challenge also on that ground. 

The court has also dealt with certain procedural challenges which were made by various parties.

The full Opinion will be available at midday:

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