Unite the Union has today confirmed it will go to the Supreme Court to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling that threatens to deprive thousands of asbestos cancer victims and their families of their rightful compensation.

In a landmark ruling earlier this month the Court of Appeal decided that in some asbestos cases the employer’s liability insurance is triggered not by the exposure to asbestos in the workplace but by the development of the fatal cancer, mesothelioma.

Because symptoms of mesothelioma only begin decades after asbestos dust was inhaled the ruling means thousands of British workers who develop the disease could be deprived of compensation.

We want to see justice done for innocent victims and their families

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said:

“The way the insurers refused to pay out in these cases is a kick in the guts to every family that’s watched a loved one suffer a painful and degrading death from mesothelioma.

“Insurers sold their policies knowing that employers and workers' families would rely on them. Now they’re trying to weasel out of paying based on fancy legal argument and policy small print.”

“Unite will put its full weight behind this appeal. We will pursue it because we want to see justice done for innocent victims and their families.”

Ian McFall, Head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons Solicitors, said:

"Asbestos victims will welcome the decision by Unite to pursue the appeal to the highest court in the land and the union's principled stance in opposing the insurers' latest legal challenge.