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For all asbestos disease claims there is a general rule that claims should be brought within 3 years of the date that a sufferer should have appreciated that they were suffering with the condition or within 3 years of the date of the sufferer’s death. This is known in law as the “statutory limitation period”. If sufferers or surviving loved ones fail to bring their claims for asbestos disease compensation within the 3 year period then their claims could be statute barred, thus closing the door on an opportunity to claim for asbestos disease compensation.
The court can exercise its discretion in disregarding the limitation rule and therefore allow claims to be made outside of the 3 year time period, although this is only allowed in limited circumstances. Specialist asbestos disease solicitors will have to make a special application to the court on behalf of the asbestos disease sufferer or family members to disallow the limitation rules in such circumstances and these are by no means certain to succeed.
An example of when the court may exercise such a discretion in an asbestos claim could be when it is argued by specialist asbestos lawyers that there would be no prejudice to the offending Defendant party in allowing the claim to proceed. Such an argument can be raised if a company ceased trading many years ago. If this is the case then even if the claim had been brought within the 3 years, it would be highly likely that the Defendant would be able to obtain evidence in the form of documents and statements to defend the claim in any event and therefore, in the interests of justice and fairness, the claim should be allowed to continue as the Defendant had not suffered any real prejudice as a result of the delay.
When giving consideration to a request for the time limit to be disregarded, the court will take into account the length of the delay and any reason behind this. The court will then decided whether it would be just in all of the circumstances to allow the claim to proceed.
Asbestos disease sufferers and their families are advised to look into potential asbestos disease claims as swiftly as possible in order to ensure that they do not fall foul of the limitation rules.
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