Insurers have been told they must pay out on claims made by the families of workers who died as a result of exposure to asbestos. The firms had argued that delays in developing cancer meant they were not liable to pay out.
The case involved people who had died from mesothelioma, a form of cancer that can mean it takes decades before symptoms appear. In virtually all cases, the worker has already died.
Although the workers in questions had been covered by employer insurance policies, several insurers had refused to pay out. They said claims were valid only from the point the symptoms appeared (often long after the worker left the job), not the point when the workers were exposed to the asbestos that eventually caused the condition.
The High Court and Court of Appeal had disagreed over the past four years about when claims should take effect. Now the UK's Supreme Court has ruled that the policies were triggered at the time of exposure.
The case only involved a few relatively small insurers that no longer accept new customers but are still obliged to cover existing policies. The Association of British Insurers, which represents most of the industry, has always argued that liability arose at the time of exposure.