Wales’ bid to force employers to pay for asbestos-related healthcare has been blocked by the Supreme Court

Firms in Wales whose staff are treated for asbestos-related illnesses will not be ordered to reimburse the NHS.

Backbench Labour AM Mick Antoniw proposed the Asbestos (Recovery of Medical Costs) Bill in a bid to raise as much as £1m a year for the Welsh NHS from employers – or their insurers – for treatment costs for diseases like mesothelioma.

The Supreme Court agreed with insurers who claimed an assembly law passed in 2013 was outside its competence.

The court said Welsh ministers had no right to impose charges to fund the NHS, and insurers should not be given extra liabilities for asbestos exposure which long predated the bill.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) welcomed the judgement.

“The Welsh Bill would have seen increased insurance premiums for Welsh businesses but no extra compensation for mesothelioma sufferers,” said a spokesperson.

“The insurance industry remains committed to doing all it can to help the victims of this terrible disease and would be happy to work constructively with the Welsh Government on this issue, as it does on other public policy.”

Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, said on Twitter that he was “gutted” at the ruling, considering the potential benefits the NHS could have received from the bill.

The bill had been referred to the Supreme Court by the Welsh government’s Counsel General Theodore Huckle following objections from the insurance industry.

The Welsh government said it would give “careful consideration to this judgement”.

Presiding Officer Dame Rosemary Butler called for “greater clarity” so everyone understood what laws the assembly could pass.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled in favour of the assembly on changes to local government by-laws and the re-establishment of the Agricultural Wages Board which had been abolished by the UK government.

If you or a family member have been affected by an asbestos related disease, please contact us today on Freephone 0800 294 3065, or talk to us on live chat where we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.