In a majority decision it ruled that they had failed to bring actions against the Outhwaite syndicates and members' agencies within a six-year deadline stipulated by the Limitations Act, 1980.
The names argued that deliberate concealment of facts about asbestos-related insurance after the contracts were written in 1982 should have stopped the clock on the statute of limitations.
The group of about 500 names did not sue until April 1992. Other groups intending to sue for damages had hoped to rely on allegations of concealment to get over the limitations hurdle. The Outhwaite group has been given leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
Nicholas Edgell, a solicitor at Norton Rose acting for the names, said: 'It is a setback, but I don't accept that we are dead in the water as a result of this judgment.'
There were other aspects to the case, but it would not proceed before a House of Lords judgment.
Simon Roper, of the solicitors Oswald Hickson Collier, acting for the members' agents, said: 'I think this decision will knock the stuffing out of them, although they do make other claims.'
If the second group does appeal the Lords would probably hear the case quite soon.Reuse content