AXA General Insurance Ltd and Others v Lord Advocate and Others: SC 12 Oct 2011

Standing to Claim under A1P1 ECHR

The appellants had written employers’ liability insurance policies. They appealed against rejection of their challenge to the 2009 Act which provided that asymptomatic pleural plaques, pleural thickening and asbestosis should constitute actionable harm for the purposes of an action of damages for personal injury.
Held: The insurers’ appeals failed. The Court upheld the power of the Scottish Parliament to reverse the decision in Rothwell.
Legislation has to be construed bearing in mind the societal values which Parliament can be taken to have intended it to embody.
To establish a standing to claim under Article 1 of the Convention, the claimant had first to show that it was within the Convention, a victim. This was to be ascertained by three questions: (1) whether the insurer claimants were ‘victims’ under Article 34, (2) if so, was the interference with their ‘possessions’ in pursuit of a legitimate aim and (3) if again so, whether the means were reasonably proportionate to the aim sought to be realised. The insurers were indeed victims, and the sums for which they would be liable were indeed possessions. The Act was in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and the real issue was as to proportionality. Given the margin of appreciation afforded it could not be said to be unreasonable.
While the Scottish Parliament was subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts, the common law grounds of review did not apply, but the Scottish Parliament powers of legislation were subject to the statutory limits in section 29(2)(d) of the 1998 Act, which required Scottish legislation to be compatible with Convention rights.
Lord Hope said: ‘The dominant characteristic of the Scottish Parliament is its firm rooting in the traditions of a universal democracy. It draws its strength from the electorate. While the judges, who are not elected, are best placed to protect the rights of the individual, including those who are ignored or despised by the majority, the elected members of a legislature of this kind are best placed to judge what is in the country’s best interests as a whole. A sovereign Parliament is, according to the traditional view, immune from judicial scrutiny because it is protected by the principle of sovereignty. But it shares with the devolved legislatures, which are not sovereign, the advantages that flow from the depth and width of the experience of its elected members and the mandate that has been given to them by the electorate. This suggests that the judges should intervene, if at all, only in the most exceptional circumstances.’
and ‘The Scottish Parliament takes its place under our constitutional arrangements as a self-standing democratically elected legislature. Its democratic mandate to make laws for the people of Scotland is beyond question. Acts that the Scottish Parliament enacts which are within its legislative competence enjoy, in that respect, the highest legal authority. The United Kingdom Parliament has vested in the Scottish Parliament the authority to make laws that are within its devolved competence.’
Lord Reed said: ‘the Scottish Parliament is not a sovereign parliament in the sense that Westminster can be described as sovereign: its powers were conferred by an Act of Parliament, and those powers, being defined, are limited. It is the function of the courts to interpret and apply those limits, and the Scottish Parliament is therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the courts.’ and
‘Judicial review under the common law is based upon an understanding of the respective constitutional responsibilities of public authorities and the courts. The constitutional function of the courts in the field of public law is to ensure, so far as they can, that public authorities respect the rule of law. The courts therefore have the responsibility of ensuring that the public authority in question does not misuse its powers or exceed their limits. The extent of the courts’ responsibility in relation to a particular exercise of power by a public authority necessarily depends upon the particular circumstances, including the nature of the public authority in question, the type of power being exercised, the process by which it is exercised, and the extent to which the powers of the authority have limits or purposes which the courts can identify and adjudicate upon.’


Lord Hope, Deputy President, Lord Brown, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Dyson, Lord Reed


UKSC 2011/0108, [2011] UKSC 46, 2011 SLT 1061, [2012] 1 AC 868, (2011) 122 BMLR 149, [2011] 3 WLR 871, [2012] HRLR 3, [2011] UKHRR 1221


SC, SC Summary, Bailii, Bailii Summary


Damages (Asbestos-related Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009, European Convention on Human Rights 1, Scotland Act 1998 29(2)(d), Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 1930, Third Parties (Rights against Insurers) Act 2010




At Outer HouseAXA General Insurance Ltd and Others v Lord Advocate and Others SCS 8-Jan-2010
The claimant sought to challenge the validity of the 2009 Act by judicial review. The Act would make their insured and themselves liable to very substantial unanticipated claims for damages for pleural plaques which would not previousl or otherwise . .
At Inner HouseAXA General Insurance Ltd and Others v The Scottish Ministers and Others SCS 12-Apr-2011
(First Division) The insurance companies sought judicial review of the 2009 Act which lay them open, as employers liability insurers, to substantial historic claims for asymptotic neural plaque injuries.
Held: The companies’ appeal failed. The . .
CitedJohnston v NEI International Combustion Ltd; Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd; similar HL 17-Oct-2007
The claimant sought damages for the development of neural plaques, having been exposed to asbestos while working for the defendant. The presence of such plaques were symptomless, and would not themselves cause other asbestos related disease, but . .
CitedWright v Stoddard International Plc and Another (No 2) SCS 23-Oct-2007
(Supplementary Opinion) Lord Uist applied the decision in Rothwell, although on the facts he would not have awarded damages anyway. . .
CitedChurch v Ministry of Defence QBD 23-Feb-1984
The 62 year old claimant sought damages after working in in the defendant’s dockyard and being exposed to asbestos. Pleural plaques were apparent on X-ray and the pleura would constrict the lung and induce breathlessness; and the asbestos must have . .
CitedPatterson v Ministry of Defence QBD 29-Jul-1986
The plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos when working for the defendant. X-rays revealed development of pleural plaques, but these would remain asymptomatic.
Held: Material damage sufficient to set time running was the same as damage . .
CitedNicol v Scottish Power plc 1998
. .
CitedGibson v McAndrew Wormald and Co Ltd 1998
Pleural plaques constituted an identifiable injury for which damages were recoverable. . .
CitedSporrong and Lonnroth v Sweden ECHR 23-Sep-1982
Balance of Interests in peaceful enjoyment claim
(Plenary Court) The claimants challenged orders expropriating their properties for redevelopment, and the banning of construction pending redevelopment. The orders remained in place for many years.
Held: Article 1 comprises three distinct . .
CitedThe National and Provincial Building Society, The Leeds Permanent Building Society And The Yorkshire Building Society v The United Kingdom ECHR 23-Oct-1997
There was no breach of human rights by the retrospective removal of a right to reclaim overpaid tax. Such a decision was within the general power of a government to impose and collect tax. Not every difference in treatment will amount to a violation . .
CitedDraon v France ECHR 6-Oct-2005
ECHR Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) – Violation of P1-1; No separate issue under Art.14 in conjunction with P1-1; No separate issue under Art. 6-1; No violation of Art. 13; No violation of Art. 8; Costs . .
CitedBack v Finland ECHR 20-Jul-2004
The claimant was the owner of a substantial debt owed by another individual. However the value of his debt was reduced to a very small level when the debtor entered a statutory scheme for compromise of debts.
Held: It must be open to a . .
CitedKopecky v Slovakia ECHR 28-Sep-2004
(Grand Chamber) The court said of the practice of the Convention institutions under A1 P1: ‘An applicant can allege a violation of article 1 of Protocol 1 only in so far as the impugned decisions related to his ‘possessions’ within the meaning of . .
CitedJackson and others v Attorney General HL 13-Oct-2005
The applicant sought to challenge the 2004 Hunting Act, saying that it had been passed under the provisions of the 1949 Parliament Act which was itself an unlawful extension of the powers given by the 1911 Parliament Act to allow the House of . .
CitedMarckx v Belgium ECHR 13-Jun-1979
Recognition of illegitimate children
The complaint related to the manner in which parents were required to adopt their own illegitimate child in order to increase his rights. Under Belgian law, no legal bond between an unmarried mother and her child results from the mere fact of birth. . .
CitedWillis v The United Kingdom ECHR 11-Jun-2002
Discrimination in the payment of ‘widows payment’ and widowed mother’s allowance infringed the rights conferred by article 14 read with article 1 of Protocol 1 but no finding was made about the widow’s pension. The risk of the applicant being . .
CitedYoung, James and Webster v The United Kingdom ECHR 13-Aug-1981
Employees claimed religious objections to being obliged to members of a Trades Union.
Held: It is the obligation of states which have ratified the Convention to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms which it . .
CitedPressos Compania Naviera S A And Others v Belgium ECHR 20-Nov-1995
When determining whether a claimant has possessions or property within the meaning of Article I the court may have regard to national law and will generally do so unless the national law is incompatible with the object and purpose of Article 1. Any . .
CitedMaurice v France ECHR 2005
. .
CitedEdinburgh District Council v Secretary of State for Scotland SCS 1985
Inner House . .
CitedSomerville v Scottish Ministers HL 24-Oct-2007
The claimants complained of their segregation while in prison. Several preliminary questions were to be decided: whether damages might be payable for breach of a Convention Right; wheher the act of a prison governor was the act of the executive; . .
CitedJames and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 21-Feb-1986
The claimants challenged the 1967 Act, saying that it deprived them of their property rights when lessees were given the power to purchase the freehold reversion.
Held: Article 1 (P1-1) in substance guarantees the right of property. Allowing a . .
CitedBroniowski v Poland ECHR 22-Jun-2004
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection dismissed (non-exhaustion of domestic remedies) ; Violation of P1-1 ; Just satisfaction reserved ; Costs and expenses partial award – Convention . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Nottinghamshire County Council HL 12-Dec-1985
The House heard a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s assessment of the proper level of expenditure by a local authority.
Held: A ‘low intensity’ of review is applied to cases involving issues ‘depending essentially on political . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Home Department v Asif Javed and Zuifiqar Ali and Abid Ali CA 17-May-2001
A designation of Pakistan as a safe place for the return of a failed asylum applicant was unlawful because there was plain evidence that persecution of women who left the marital home, whether voluntarily or by compulsion, was widespread. . .
CitedRegina v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte Kebilene and others HL 28-Oct-1999
(Orse Kebeline) The DPP’s appeal succeeded. A decision by the DPP to authorise a prosecution could not be judicially reviewed unless dishonesty, bad faith, or some other exceptional circumstance could be shown. A suggestion that the offence for . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State ex parte Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council HL 4-Oct-1990
16 local authorities joined together to challenge the bringing in of the community charge, and of rules giving central government a greater say over management of local finance by local authorities.
Held: Acts which are essentially political . .
CitedWest v Secretary of State for Scotland SCS 23-Apr-1992
The petitioner complained that on being moved from his employment at one prison to another, he had been told that his moving expenses would be paid, but that they were not. The respondent said that the terms of his employment were that he was to be . .
CitedWest v Secretary of State for Scotland SCS 1992
The court asked what was to be considered to be truly an application to the supervisory jurisdiction of the court.
Held: Lord President (Hope): ‘The public or private nature of the inferior body or tribunal is not decisive, nor is it necessary . .
CitedForbes v Underwood 1886
The supervisory jurisdiction of the Court of Session was used to compel an arbiter to proceed with an arbitration agreed under a private contract. . .
CitedD and J Nicol v Dundee Harbour Trustees HL 10-Dec-1914
Whether a corporation created by a statute has a particular power depends exclusively on whether that power has been expressly given to it by the statute regulating it, or can be implied from the language used.
Lord Dunedin declared: ‘By the . .
CitedMcDonald v Burns SCS 29-Mar-1940
. .
CitedSt Johnstone Football Club v Scottish Football Association Ltd 1965
The Supervisory jurisdiction of the Court of Session was available to check whether the proceedings leading to a disciplinary decision of the Scottish Football Association, a private association, had been conducted in accordance with natural . .
CitedX v United Kingdom ECHR 5-Nov-1981
(Commission) The application was made a patient, restricted under the 1959 Act. A mental health review tribunal which concluded that the continued detention of a restricted patient was no longer justified had power to recommend but not to order the . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex parte Bindel 2001
A women’s group objected to the visit to the United Kingdom of Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, so that he could earn money here by appearing in the boxing ring.
Held: Justice for Women did not have arguable grounds for interfering with the . .
CitedRape Crisis Centre v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2000
The petitioner sought judicial review of a decision to allow the boxer Mike Tyson to visit the UK.
Held: The Immigration Rules conferred no express or implied rights on third parties such as the petitioners. A review was refused.
Lord . .
CitedBarker v Corus (UK) Plc HL 3-May-2006
The claimants sought damages after contracting meselothemia working for the defendants. The defendants argued that the claimants had possibly contracted the disease at any one or more different places. The Fairchild case set up an exception to the . .
CitedFairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd and Others HL 20-Jun-2002
The claimants suffered mesothelioma after contact with asbestos while at work. Their employers pointed to several employments which might have given rise to the condition, saying it could not be clear which particular employment gave rise to the . .
CitedZielinski v France ECHR 28-Oct-1999
Hudoc The applicants challenged a retrospective change in employment law under article 6(1).
Held: The court stated that while in principle the legislature is not precluded in civil matters from adopting . .
CitedCampbell and Cosans v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Feb-1982
To exclude a child from school for as long as his parents refused to let him be beaten ‘cannot be described as reasonable and in any event falls outside the State’s power of regulation in article 2’. The Convention protects only religions and . .
CitedMellacher and Others v Austria ECHR 19-Dec-1989
The case concerned restrictions on the rent that a property owner could charge. The restrictions were applied to existing leases. It was said that the restrictions brought into play the second paragraph of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the . .
CitedLithgow And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 8-Jul-1986
The applicants complained that on the nationalisation of their interests under the 1977 Act, the compensation awarded had been inadequate and did not reflect their true value.
Held: Convention jurisprudence permits a proportionate restriction . .
CitedSienkiewicz v Greif (UK) Ltd; Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council v Willmore SC 9-Mar-2011
The Court considered appeals where defendants challenged the factual basis of findings that they had contributed to the causes of the claimant’s Mesothelioma, and in particular to what extent a court can satisfactorily base conclusions of fact on . .
CitedVijayanathan and Pusparajah v France ECHR 27-Aug-1992
Where a person is not at risk of a violation of a Convention right unless and until a particular decision is taken, for example as to deportation, the person cannot claim to be a victim unless and until such a decision is in fact made.
. .
CitedOpen Door and Dublin Well Woman v Ireland ECHR 29-Oct-1992
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Lack of jurisdiction (Art. 8); Preliminary objection rejected (victim); Preliminary objection rejected (six month period); Preliminary objection rejected . .
CitedGorraiz Lizarraga et Autres v Espagne ECHR 27-Apr-2004
(French Text) An excessively formalistic interpretation of the concept of a ‘victim’ would make protection of the rights guaranteed by the Convention ineffectual and illusory. . .
CitedBurden and Burden v The United Kingdom ECHR 29-Apr-2008
(Grand Chamber) The claimants were sisters who had lived together all their lives. They complained of discrimination in their treatment under the Inheritance Tax system as opposed to the treatment of a same sex couple living in a sexual . .
CitedWasa Liv Omsesidigt v Sweden ECHR 14-Dec-1988
Commission . .
CitedAgrotexim and Others v Greece ECHR 24-Oct-1995
Hudoc Not necessary to examine preliminary objection (ratione temporis); Preliminary objection allowed (victim); Lack of jurisdiction (complaint inadmissible, new complaint)
The applicant companies held . .
CitedNational Westminster Bank plc v Spectrum Plus Limited and others HL 30-Jun-2005
Former HL decision in Siebe Gorman overruled
The company had become insolvent. The bank had a debenture and claimed that its charge over the book debts had become a fixed charge. The preferential creditors said that the charge was a floating charge and that they took priority.
Held: The . .
CitedIatridis v Greece ECHR 25-Mar-1999
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Preliminary objection rejected (non-exhaustion); Preliminary objection rejected (six month period); Violation of P1-1; Violation of Art. 13; Not necessary to examine . .
CitedWhaley v Lord Watson SCS 16-Feb-2000
The Scottish Parliament and its members have a limited statutory immunity from suit. No interdict or other order could be made against a member of the Parliament if the effect would be to grant an order against the Parliament not otherwise . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for The Home Department Ex Parte Simms HL 8-Jul-1999
Ban on Prisoners talking to Journalists unlawful
The two prisoners, serving life sentences for murder, had had their appeals rejected. They continued to protest innocence, and sought to bring their campaigns to public attention through the press, having oral interviews with journalists without . .
CitedRossi v Magistrates of Edinburgh HL 1904
Conditions in an ice-cream vendors’ licence which restricted their right to open their shops when they liked and sell what they pleased were held to be ultra vires of the licensing authority. The court applied the rule that while the legislature may . .
CitedBrown v Hamilton District Council HL 25-Nov-1982
The pursuer sought a declaration that he was a homeless person and therefore entitled to assistance.
Held: Lord Fraser of Tullybelton said that it was for consideration whether there might not be advantages in developing special procedure in . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex parte Anufrijeva HL 26-Jun-2003
The appellant challenged the withdrawal of her benefits payments. She had applied for asylum, and been granted reduced rate income support. A decision was made refusing her claim, but that decision was, by policy, not communicated to her for several . .
CitedStevenson v Midlothian District Council HL 1983
The pursuer was an undischarged bankrupt. The Lord Ordinary ordered him to find caution, although he was in receipt of legal aid. He said that he had had regard to the nature of the action and the pleadings, as well as to the fact that he was an . .
CitedWilson v Independent Broadcasting Authority OHCS 1979
In the lead up to the Scottish referendum on Devolution, the Authority required the broadcasters to carry party political broadcasts for each of the four main parties. Three parties favoured voting yes in the referendum, and the authority was . .
CitedScottish Old People’s Welfare Council, Petitioners SCS 1987
The organisation (‘Age Concern Scotland’) challenged guidance issued by the chief adjudication officer regarding social security payments for severe weather conditions. Lord Clyde concluded that any member of the public, or an association such as . .
CitedSutherland District Council v Secretary of State for Scotland SCS 23-Dec-1987
Lord Clyde discussed the rule restricting the class of people who might bring judicial review: ‘Paragraph (14) envisages that interested parties may be permitted to enter the process more freely than in the case of an ordinary action and so enable . .
CitedCasey v Edinburgh Airport Ltd SCS 23-Feb-1989
There was a challenge to decisions taken by the airport authority, under a bye-law, to refuse permits to the applicant taxi operators. During the hearing, the applicants sought to challenge the validity of the bye-law itself.
Held: Lord . .
CitedEBA v Advocate General for Scotland SC 21-Jun-2011
The appellant had sought to challenge refusal of disability living allowance. Ultimately her request a judicial review of the Upper Tribunal’s decion was rejected on the basis that the UT, being a court of superior record, was not susceptible to . .
CitedAir 2000 v Secretary of State for Transport (No 2) OHCS 1990
Advice from the Civil Aviation Authority which by statute the Secretary of State was required to consider had been seen not by him but by an interdepartmental working party which advised him.
Held: Citing Carltona for the uncontroversial . .

Cited by:

CitedANS and Another v ML SC 11-Jul-2012
The mother opposed adoption proceedings, and argued that the provision in the 2007 Act, allowing a court to dispense with her consent, infringed her rights under Article 8 and was therefore made outwith the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
CitedImperial Tobacco Ltd v The Lord Advocate SC 12-Dec-2012
The claimant company said that the 2010 Act was outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament insofar as it severely restricted the capacity of those selling cigarettes to display them for sale. They suggested two faults. First, that the subject . .
CitedWalton v The Scottish Ministers SC 17-Oct-2012
The appellant, former chair of a road activist group, challenged certain roads orders saying that the respondent had not carried out the required environmental assessment. His claim was that the road had been adopted without the consultation . .
CitedLocal Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill 2012 – Reference By The Attorney General for England and Wales SC 21-Nov-2012
Under the 1998 and 2006 Acts, the Welsh Assembly was empowered to pass legislation subject to confirmation by the English Parliament Secretary of State. The Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill 2012 was passed by the Assembly and purported to . .
CitedChester, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 16-Oct-2013
The two applicants were serving life sentences for murder. Each sought damages for the unlawful withdrawal of their rights to vote in elections, and the failure of the British parliament to take steps to comply with the judgment.
Held: The . .
CitedRecovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill (Reference By The Counsel General for Wales) SC 9-Feb-2015
The court was asked whether the Bill was within the competence of the Welsh Assembly. The Bill purported to impose NHS charges on those from whom asbestos related damages were recovered.
Held: The Bill fell outside the legislative competence . .
CitedNicklinson and Another, Regina (on The Application of) SC 25-Jun-2014
Criminality of Assisting Suicide not Infringing
The court was asked: ‘whether the present state of the law of England and Wales relating to assisting suicide infringes the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the code published by the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to . .
CitedEvans and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Attorney General SC 26-Mar-2015
The Attorney General appealed against a decision for the release under the Act and Regulations of letters from HRH The Prince of Wales to various ministers and government departments.
Held: The appeal failed (Majority). The A-G had not been . .
CitedCoventry and Others v Lawrence and Another SC 22-Jul-2015
The appellants challenged the compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights of the system for recovery of costs in civil litigation in England and Wales following the passing of the Access to Justice Act 1999. The parties had been . .
CitedCherry, Reclaiming Motion By Joanna Cherry QC MP and Others v The Advocate General SCS 11-Sep-2019
(First Division, Inner House) The reclaimer challenged dismissal of her claim for review of the recent decision for the prorogation of the Parliament at Westminster.
Held: Reclaim was granted. The absence of reasons allowed the court to infer . .
CitedMott, Regina (on The Application of) v The Environment Agency and Another Admn 13-Feb-2015
The claimant challenged new conditions imposed on licences to operate his salmon fishery in the Severn Estuary, which operated to defeat his tenancy of the fishery.
Held: The request for review succeeded. The decisions to impose the catch . .
CitedMott, Regina (on The Application of) v Environment Agency and Another CA 17-Jun-2016
The applicant challenged restrictions on salmon fishing imposed by the respondent. At first instance they were held to be irrational, and the Agency appealed.
Held: The Regulations were not irrational and that element of the appeal succeeded, . .
CitedMott, Regina (on The Application of) v Environment Agency SC 14-Feb-2018
The Court considered the legality under the European Convention on Human Rights of licensing conditions imposed by the Environment Agency restricting certain forms of salmon-fishing in the Severn Estuary. The claimant operated a licensed putcher . .
CitedWelsh Ministers v PJ SC 17-Dec-2018
A patient detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) may be released from compulsory detention in hospital subject to a community treatment order. The question arising on this appeal is whether a patient’s responsible clinician (may impose . .
CitedDA and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions SC 15-May-2019
Several lone parents challenged the benefits cap, saying that it was discriminatory.
Held: (Hale, Kerr LL dissenting) The parents’ appeals failed. The legislation had a clear impact on lone parents and their children. The intention was to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Human Rights, Constitutional, Judicial Review

Leading Case

Updated: 07 February 2022; Ref: scu.445395

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