Stephensons has been made aware of a deadline for all potential claimants to join an ongoing group action for industrial disease claims.
The action is brought on behalf of hundreds of ex-British Steel employees suffering from illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (‘COPD’) and lung cancer. It is alleged that their conditions were either caused or made worse by historic exposure to coke fumes at work.
Many of the claimants regularly worked for many years in close proximity to coke ovens, being the source of harmful fumes. British Steel’s claims representatives have conceded that they breached their duty of care to employees from 1947 onwards, until they began to provide protective respiratory equipment from 1981.
Various steelworks in England & Wales are involved in the case including East Moors, Ebbw Vale, Llanwern, Port Talbot, Shotton and Consett. In addition, the Ravenscraig site in Scotland is named.
The group action received High Court approval in January 2017 and in order to progress the matter, a cut-off date for any additional claimants of 23rd February 2018 has now been set.
Anyone who believes they may have grounds to pursue a claim, including family members of former workers who have since passed away, are urged to contact the firms involved in the group action without delay. The lead firms are Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell and a dedicated helpline has been set up for this purpose – 0808 163 1297.
If a potentially eligible claimant fails to join the court’s register before this deadline, they would need the court’s permission to participate. A delay of just a few months could result in permission being refused.
It could also be extremely difficult to pursue their own claim in a local court at a later date. One of the main reasons for this is the law on limitation. Claimants only have three years from their date of knowledge to bring proceedings and as it could take several years for the High Court test cases to be resolved, by this point any further claims are likely to be seen as ‘statute-barred’.
Please do not hesitate to contact our industrial disease team on 0175 321 6399 should you require any informal advice on the issues arising from this notice.