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Employer's duty of care case moves to Supreme Court

Harminder Bains secures Supreme Court hearing for injured Johnson Matthey workers

Posted on 14 February 2017

Three former Johnson Matthey employees who became sensitised to precious metal after being exposed to platinum salts in the workplace have won the right for their case to proceed to the Supreme Court. 

The men are represented by industrial disease partner Harminder Bains who was asked to take over the case on behalf of the claimants, Messrs Dryden, Cipullo and York, as the previous solicitors were not able to continue to support the case. Two of the original claimants decided not to continue with the case.

The men worked for Johnson Matthey plc, at a chemical plant in Royston, and after becoming sensitised to compounds of the precious metal platinum, could no longer work at the factory and were dismissed.

The case is highly significant and has the potential to redefine the duty of care owed by employers to their employees. In this case Johnson Matthey plc accept that the claimants were negligently exposed to dangerous levels of platinum salts. However, the company has refused to pay compensation to the claimants. 

If this case is not overturned in the Supreme Court other employers may use the precedent it sets to side-step their health and safety responsibilities to their employees, and may negligently expose other workers to hazardous working conditions.

Detailed written arguments were submitted to the Supreme Court and permission to hear the cases was granted. The case is listed to be heard on 27 and 28 November 2017.

Counsel representing the claimants are Robert Weir QC and Patrick Kerr.  

Industrial disease lawyer Harminder Bains said:

“This case is highly significant.  It is extremely important that the right of employees to be protected from harm in their workplaces without suffering financial loss is reinforced.

“Workers who are exposed to dangerous substances must be fairly compensated if the exposure results in the loss of their jobs”.