Rothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd and Another: QBD 15 Feb 2005

The claimant had been exposed to asbestos whilst employed by the defendant and sought damages for the pleural plaques which had developed as a consequence. The defendant replied that such plaques and pleural thickening were not a sufficient injury to found a claim.
Held: The defendants were liable. The defendants focussed wrongly on the pleural plaques: ‘I start by rejecting any notion that pleural plaques per se can found a cause of action. I am not satisfied that for forensic purposes they can be categorised as a ‘disease’ nor as an ‘impairment of physical condition’. This whole forensic exercise arises because for practical purposes there is no disease, nor is there any impairment of physical condition.’ As to the associated anxiety: ‘I am satisfied that when, as in the instant cases, anxiety is engendered by tortiously inflicted physiological damage it can properly contribute to ‘damage’ or ‘injury’ so as to complete the foundation of a cause of action. It becomes that which is routinely encompassed in ‘pain and suffering’ or ‘loss of amenity’. I take it to be beyond dispute that a continuing anxiety engendered by a tortiously inflicted external scar can contribute to the compensatable injury and I see no logical difference between that situation and such that arises in the instant situation.’ and ‘ . . , I cannot myself regard as minimal the presence of asbestos within the body that is permanent, raising a possibility (albeit no higher than that) of the future onset of asbestosis or the even more daunting mesothelioma,’


Holland J Mrs


Unreported, 15 February 2005, B3/2005/0528, MA324838, 4NE05336, NE301177, CH301273, HQ309X00927, HQ4MY00912


England and Wales

Cited by:

Appeal fromRothwell v Chemical and Insulating Co Ltd and Another CA 26-Jan-2006
Each claimant sought damages after being exposed to asbestos dust. The defendants resisted saying that the injury alleged, the development of pleural plaques, was yet insufficient as damage to found a claim.
Held: (Smith LJ dissenting) The . .
At first instanceJohnston 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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Personal Injury, Health and Safety

Updated: 21 May 2022; Ref: scu.238192