£7.5m deal in asbestos case

A long-running battle for compensation against a British company brought by thousands of South African miners with asbestos-related disease was settled yesterday for £7.5m at the High Court.

The settlement against Cape plc also included provision for a further £3.1m by South African company Gencor Ltd, making a total payout to the workers of £10.6m. The deal was clinched in March this year, but was formally approved yesterday by Sir Michael Wright at a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Cape's barrister told the judge: "Cape has actively promoted and pursued this settlement, although it does not make any admission of liability. The Cape board is pleased that it comes to a close and that Cape can now move on."

During the hearing, a banker's draft was handed on behalf of Cape to Lord Brennan QC, representing more than 7,000 claimants, for more than £7m. After hearing from Lord Brennan on behalf of the 7,500 claimants and Charles Gibson QC, for Cape, Sir Michael said he was more than happy to approve the settlement sum. He paid tribute to all parties "for the common sense of the negotiations that have gone on".

The settlement will cover only claimants registered in the UK legal action and not future ones. Solicitors for the claimants, Leigh, Day and Co, said: "The amount of the settlement is insufficient to enable funds to be distributed among further claimants." But they said the number of excluded claimants "should be small".

The solicitors said the settlement reached in March came after "investigations revealed Cape was in serious financial difficulty and experts advised there was a real threat of insolvency. Had that happened, it is doubtful whether the victims would have received a cent".

Cape plc, which sold its asbestos mines in 1979 and now works in asbestos removal, no longer has any interests in South Africa. At a previous hearing, Lord Brennan said it was the largest group action in Britain and the largest transnational claim of its kind.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence