Asbestos Exposure and Choice of Law – Docherty Revisited

This blog post is by James Beeton of 12 King’s Bench Walk.

In May we considered the decision of the Outer House of Scotland’s Court of Session in Docherty v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills [2018] CSOH 25 in this blog post. The question for the court to consider may be summarised as follows:

‘Where an individual, while working in Scotland, inhales asbestos fibres that cause him injury after he has become resident in England, which law is applicable to determine the admissibility of claims for damages made by his executors and relatives after his death?’

In the Outer House, Lord Tyre had held that the case fell outside the temporal scope of Rome II and the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995. The result was that the applicable law depended on the locus delicti (i.e. the place of the wrong) pursuant to the common law. Lord Tyre considered that the locus delicti was the place where the injury developed and not where the negligent act or omission occurred. This meant that English law applied to the claims for damages (with significant consequences for some of the claimants, as discussed in the previous blog).

That decision has now been overturned by the Inner House on appeal ([2018] CSIH 57). The locus delicti is the place of exposure to asbestos – not the place where the eventual injury develops. Continue reading “Asbestos Exposure and Choice of Law – Docherty Revisited”