Letters: Asbestos claim

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The Independent Culture
Asbestos claim

Sir: Today, 2,000 South Africans wait anxiously to hear whether they will be allowed to sue a British company, Cape plc. They claim that the company was negligent in exposing them to levels of asbestos dust up to 35 times the British legal limit. Some have already died.

Today's hearing in the High Court will not determine whether they get compensation, but merely whether they have the right to be heard. The company is trying to stop them by arguing that the case should not proceed in the UK.

Companies are able to do this because overseas victims have no automatic right to be heard in British courts. In contrast, other European courts assume that companies can be sued in their home countries, wherever the negligence occurred. British companies are trying to exploit this legal loophole to prevent cases from ever coming to trial.

We fear that the legal system is failing to deliver justice to people overseas who have suffered through the negligence of British companies.

ANN CLWYD MP

(Lab, Cynon Valley)

GLENYS KINNOCK MEP

(Lab, South Wales East)

GEORGE BRUMELL

General Secretary, UCATT

JOHN EDMONDS

General Secretary, GMB

ROGER LYONS

General Secretary, MSF

Professor UPENDRA BAXI

Warwick University

Professor SOL PICCIOTTO

Law Department, Lancaster University

World Development Movement

London SW9

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