Lawyers Leigh Day calls for new legislation to curb UK-based asbestos trade

Leigh Day calls for restrictions to laws that enable UK firms to play a role in asbestos trading.

Leading industrial diseases lawyer Harminder Bains from top law firm Leigh Day has said more must be done to curb laws which facilitate UK companies to be part of an industry which claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

She has joined calls for a change in the law after a Sunday Times investigation revealed that Britain is one of the world’s biggest traders in asbestos, a deadly material that kills more than 100,000 people every year.

The Sunday Times investigation found that despite asbestos being banned in the UK for the past 20 years, British-registered companies are still responsible for shipping hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos to some of the world’s poorest countries including India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia where it is still used in construction.

According to the in investigation these Scottish limited partnerships can operate without paying taxes, publishing accounts or declaring publicly who owns them. In 2015, a single UK-registered company was responsible for shipping almost half the asbestos mined in Russia, which is the world’s biggest producer of asbestos.

Trading in asbestos is not unlawful in the UK and there is no suggestion the LPs are engaged in illicit activity.

We applaud Harminder’s stance on this issue, and the investigation by the Sunday Times. The full story is available on Leigh Day’s website here.