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Asbestos legal advice website launched by RMJM families

Site backed by RIBA and RIAS will provide help and information on compensation claims

A website providing help and advice for those affected by asbestos compensation claims is to be launched with the support of the RIBA and RIAS.

The site, www.asbestosfaqs.co.uk, which will be launched next week, has been created by architects Ben Derbyshire and Marcus Lee.

Derbyshire and Lee recently fought a long and tortuous legal battle on behalf of their elderly fathers - former RMJM partners Andrew Derbyshire and Vernon Lee - after they were hit with a £1 million claim over alleged asbestos poisoning.

The claim, for “negligent exposure” to asbestos was brought in the Scottish courts in early 2013 by the family of the late John Miller, who died of mesothelioma in 2009.

The claim was originally filed against housebuilder Bett Homes – which employed Miller as a carpenter and joiner between 1962 and 1967 – but Bett brought in the former RMJM partners as a second defendant based on Miller’s employment as a clerk of works by the then RMJM Partnership on the building of Ninewells Hospital in Dundee from 1967 to 1973.

The case was eventually settled in May with Bett Homes paying the Miller family £360,000 in damages while Derbyshire and Lee were ‘released from the action with no liability for damages’.

In a statement released yesterday, Ben Derbyshire and Marcus Lee and their lawyer Ian Leach of BLM Law said their experience had been ‘long, expensive and often very stressful’ for their families and that it had revealed a lack of factual information and support available to those in a similar situation.

It continued: ‘There is little readily available information on how the law works, where to go to find insurance, what sort of specialist legal advice to get or who the specialists in the field are. This added greatly to the time spent and the costs incurred fighting the claim.

‘This case should serve as a reminder to all practicing architects that the insurance industry cannot necessarily be relied upon to keep a record of historic policies, and to check for copies of Employers’ and Public Liability as well as Professional Indemnity Insurance certificates for all past years of practice’.

The website, which will go live on 3 September, will cover both English and Scottish law and will include a range of frequently asked questions, contact names and numbers and an interactive blog.

Following backing from RIBA president Stephen Hodder and RIAS president Iain Connelly, both organisations will provide links to the site from the public sections of their own websites.

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