CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a UK Supreme Court ruling that will ensure asbestos victims get compensation and have called on insurance firms to stop stalling to prevent paying out.
The court found yesterday that victims' claims were entitled to begin from the moment they were exposed to asbestos, not when they first fell ill.
It means insurers for firms which have since gone bust are still liable to pay compensation.
Campaign groups said it meant insurers must now pay up and will have implications for people who have yet to notice they have the asbestos-related illness mesothelioma.
The Supreme Court ruled the disease could be said to have been sustained by an employee in the period when it was caused or initiated, even though it only developed or manifested itself later.
Lord Clarke said: "The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the (insurance) policy period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer's obligation."
Phyllis Craig, of Clydeside Action on Asbestos, said the insurers were wrong to repeatedly try to find ways of avoiding paying up.
She said: "We welcome the judgement. Any other decision would have been a backwards step in the rights of UK asbestos sufferers.
"The insurance industry really needs to stop standing in the way of justice.
"This is people's lives we're talking about; they are having to live with diseases caused by asbestos exposure that was no fault of their own.
"To continually attempt to block their right to full compensation is simply wrong.
"With October's judgment on pleural plaque in Scotland and now this judgment I hope insurers get the message: asbestos victims deserve the fullest possible compensation."
Thompsons Solicitors has been engaged in cases covering hundreds of former Scottish workers who contracted mesothelioma, many from their time in shipyards and heavy industry.
Asbestos expert at the firm, Laura Blane, said: "This is great news for the rights of asbestos sufferers.
"It will mean that victims and families who have suffered due to asbestos can get justice they deserve.
"Insurance companies have tried to introduce a number of hurdles to avoid paying compensation.
"We had the legal challenge with pleural plaques, which the Supreme Court rightly rejected in October for example.
"The time of insurers trying to avoid their responsibilities needs to come to an end.
"Asbestos victims deserve proper compensation"