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.
The article can be read here. The appended table can be read here.
In the article, there is reference to (at A1(c)) to Michael’s last paper, discussing the argument advanced by Defendants that the effect of low doses of asbestos cannot be distinguished from the ‘background’ risk.
Can I ask: is this paper available online anywhere? I cannot find it on Michael’s 12KBW profile, or on this blog.
Thanks for the comment. The paper Mike is referring to is the three-parter on the decision in Bannister v Freemans Plc. You can read the three posts on the blog (posted in June of this year) or the whole article can be read in one place here: https://www.12kbw.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Bannister-v-Freemans-MER-SC.pdf
Hope that helps.