Today we are publishing an article by Michael Rawlinson QC in which he examines a statutory regime which to his knowledge has never been considered in the context of asbestos exposure but which, he concludes, provides a strict liability regime for injuries arising from asbestos exposure in schools which were maintained by a Local Education Authority or in receipt of a grant direct from the Secretary of State between 1902 and 2012.
The abstract to the article is as follows:
Where material exposure to asbestos can, on balance, be demonstrated to have occurred in respect of either a pupil or an employee within the school environment, from 1902 to 2012, the liability for the same is strict where the school was either maintained by a Local Education Authority or was in receipt of a grant direct from the Secretary of State. This is laid out in a series of statutory instruments (and associated Judicial dicta) which have clearly been long forgotten but which I stumbled upon recently. Further, when properly understood, the scope of the common law duties on a school in respect of its duties to those so exposed is almost uniquely high. I seek to approach this topic by providing background to low exposure claims in asbestos generally, moving to exposure in schools, then dealing with the statutory duties and finally concluding with a review of the width of the common law duty of school occupiers. I have also provided a ‘ready reckoner’ setting out year-by-year and by school type which regulatory regime applied.