Sienkiewicz v Greif (UK Ltd), Knowsley MBC v Willmore: A fair or logical decision?

AuthorLyndsey Banthorpe
S.S.L.R. Sien kiew icz v Greif (UK Ltd)
Sienkiewicz v Greif (UK Ltd), Knowsley MBC v
Willmore: A fair or logical decision?
Ly ndsey Bant horp e
The article discusses th e issues of causation surrounding mesothelioma claims
in light of the recent decision of Sienk iewicz v Greif (UK) Ltd, Know sley MBC
v W illmore [20 11] UKSC 10 and William s (Deceased) v University of
Birm in gham [2011] EWCA Civ 1242; an d whether these decision s can be
consid ered fair an d logical fr om the perspect ive of both the claiman t an d th e
respondent. Although the W illiam s case did n ot affect the exception itself, the
article also discusses wheth er the exception to thebut for’ test should be
extended or whether it sh ould be limited as much as possible. Given th at it is
consid er ed that mesotheliom a claims are likely to peak in the coming years,
the ar ticle offers are interesting argument as to what the courts could be
expected to decide in th e future.
he issue of cau sation surroundin g m esothelioma claims has been an
area of flux an d uncertainty for the past half a cen tury. The recen t case
of Sien kiew icz v Greif, Kn owsley M BC v W illm ore1 was hoped to shed
som e n ew light on this con tentious zone, giving som e form of cert aint y and
predictability. Instead the Suprem e Cou rt ruled that its hands were tied to the
precedent of the Fairchild 2 exception, the rule in Barker 3 as well as the will of
Parliam en t 4, but sent out a war ning of th e unsatisfactory state of the ou tcome
it felt obliged to reach 5.
The key quest ion h owever , is whether this decision was fair or logical. The
logical nature of the decision will be tackled from three differ ent angles; first ly,
followin g on from recent legislat ion and statutory instruments such as the
Compensat ion Act 20 0 6, and the Diffuse Mesotheliom a Compensation
Scheme 2008; secondly from an epidemiological point of view which was
strongly emphasised th rough th e ju dgments of Sien kiew icz; and th irdly an d
1 Sienkiewicz v Greif (UK) Ltd, Knowsley MBC v Will more [2011] UKSC 10
2 Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services [2002] 3 WLR 89
3 Barker v Corus UK Ltd [2006] 2 AC 572
4 Chris Miller ‘Causation in personal injury after (and before) Sienkiewicz’ (2012) Legal Studies,
doi: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2012.00227.x
121X.2012.00227.x/full Accessed 28th March 2012, at p.23
5 Sienkiewicz, n. 1, Lord Brown [174]

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