Liability to non-employees for asbestos damage

In a lengthy judgement, the High Court has held a company liable in negligence for personal injury caused by an asbestos factory to local residents as a result of its operations over sixty years ago. The case, Margereson and Hancock v JW Roberts Ltd (High Court of Justice, Leeds District Registry, November 1995), required the court to consider reasonable standards of foreseeability at the time, and is unusual in that it did not involve injury to employees but was concerned with exposure to emissions dispersed into the local environment. Mr Justice Holland held that the company's duty of care did extend beyond its employees to the factory's immediate surroundings. Another 30 cases may be brought against the company on the strength of the judgement, although this has now been taken to appeal.

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