The recent victory for the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum led by Graham Dring (Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group) in its intervention for non-party disclosure of relevant documents held by Cape Intermediate Holdings, proves that there is still hope for justice against those who have profited from the sufferings of others.
The case of Dring-v-Cape Intermediate and Others is such a poignant one. Cape, which has been a worldwide producer of Asbestos containing materials since it was founded in 1893 has over many decades manufactured and supplied thousands of asbestos-containing products to retailers and other outlets, knowing that their products can cause significant progressive respiratory illnesses, such as asbestosis and fatal ones such as mesothelioma and Lung cancer. Many thousands of workers have been engaged in the production of such materials and have been directly exposed causing illnesses not just to themselves but also their loved ones, as they brought home Asbestos contaminated overalls to be washed by their spouses and whilst playing with their children. Generations of families have therefore been affected and their lives destroyed.
Graham Dring of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group brought an application in the High Court to prevent Cape destroying documents concerning its knowledge of the harm that can be caused by its asbestos containing products in the 1960s and 1970s, which were deployed in a separate action brought against Cape for a contribution for damages in a mesothelioma claim. Cape resisted the application and contended that it was a private matter and not one open to the public.
With the support of the Forum, representations were made to the court as to why those documents should be preserved for future reference in other cases to be brought against Cape and in its many subsidiary companies. The court agreed that it was in the interests of justice to do so and ordered that those documents should not be destroyed but made available for inspection.
This is an illustration of how the determination of one group and its members can defeat the might of a conglomerate and is truly a story of David overcoming Goliath in its quest for justice and fairness.