One which makes an employer in breach of his duty liable for the claimant's injury because he created a significant risk to his health, despite the fact that the physical cause of the injury may have been created by someone else? This ruling clarifies the law on the extent to which an employer can be held responsible when people who have worked for them go on to develop mesothelioma, an asbestos-induced cancer. Lord Reid expressly said so (page 3). But the pursuer had only proved that the accumulation of abrasions was one possible mechanism for triggering his dermatitis. He died, and his wife was suing the employers on his behalf for negligence. In other words, causation provides a means of connecting conduct with a resulting effect, typically an injury. 141. In these circumstances Mr Fox was exposed to large amounts of asbestos dust, often for many hours each day. civ. But, as Hart and Honor also point out, there are situations in which these generalisations would fail to give effect to the reasons why it was thought just and reasonable to impose liability. The House of Lords approved the test of "materially increasing risk" of harm, as a deviation in some circumstances from the ordinary "balance of probabilities" test under the "but for" standard. Policy considerations weigh in favour of such a conclusion. It concerned malignant mesothelioma, a deadly disease caused by breathing asbestos fibres. Giving the unanimous views of the Appellate Committee, Lord Bridge indicated that in McGhee the pursuer had won his case simply because the House had been prepared to draw from the primary facts an inference that the defenders' wrongful failure to provide showers had materially contributed to the onset of his dermatitis. The man had worked in the defenders' dressing shop where there was a pneumatic hammer the operation of which, lawfully at the time, gave rise to siliceous dust in the atmosphere. After the decision in Barker there was a swift and fierce political backlash, with large numbers of workers, families, trade unions, and Members of Parliament calling for the reversal of the ruling. 144. And the political and economic arguments involved in the massive increase in the liability of the National Health Service which would have been a consequence of the broad rule favoured by the Court of Appeal in Wilsher's case are far more complicated than the reasons given by Lord Wilberforce for imposing liability upon an employer who has failed to take simple precautions. He was exposed to asbestos during the last four years of this employment when working as a boilerman. Again, it may be said that this is no more than common sense. During his working life the late Mr Fairchild worked for an employer (whose successor was wrongly identified as the first-named defendant) who carried out sub-contract work for the Leeds City Council in the early 1960s and may have built packing cases for the transportation of industrial ovens lined with asbestos. I was a party to that decision and would not in any way resile from it. The problem was, a single asbestos fibre, inhaled at any time, can trigger mesothelioma. But some authorities suggest that in cases where the claimant can prove that a breach of duty materially increased the risk of the contraction of a particular disease and the disease occurred, the law should treat this as giving rise to the inference that the breach of duty was a cause of the disease rather than that the judge as the tribunal of fact should draw a factual inference. The basis on which one case, or one type of case, is distinguished from another should be transparent and capable of identification. For example, if it is thought just and reasonable to impose a duty to take care to protect someone against harm caused by the informed and voluntary act of another responsible human being, it would be absurd to retain a causal requirement that the harm should not have been so caused. I reserve my opinion as to whether the principle applies where the other possible source of injury is a similar but lawful act or omission of someone else or a natural occurrence. In Snell v Farrell (1990) 72 DLR (4th) 289 Sopinka J, in delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court, stated with reference to McGhee, at p 296g: 103. There too, the employer was under a duty (to provide washing facilities) specifically intended to protect employees against being unnecessarily exposed to the risk of (among other things) a particular disease, namely dermatitis. But the problems differ quite widely and the fair and just answer will not always be the same. Development of the law in this country cannot of course depend on a head-count of decisions and codes adopted in other countries around the world, often against a background of different rules and traditions. The evidence in the case showed that exposure to such a high level of oxygen increased the risk that the plaintiff would suffer retrolental fibroplasia. 6. Mr Stewart criticised Rutherford on the ground that the law should not develop principles to be applied only in the case of asbestos-related illness. He then summarised the facts of McGhee in this way ([1987] QB 730, 779B - C): 149. These generalisations are explored in detail by Hart and Honor (Causation in the Law, 2nd ed 1985). 165. Fourthly, it was expressly held by three members of the House (Lord Reid at page 5, Lord Simon at page 8 and Lord Salmon at pages 12-13) that in the circumstances no distinction was to be drawn between making a material contribution to causing the disease and materially increasing the risk of the pursuer contracting it. 134. It may be caused by the mutation of a single cell caused by a single asbestos fibre. Negligence — Asbestos — Mesothelioma — Claimants unable to establish which employment caused mesothelioma — Whether any Employer liable — Test for causation. The German position is even more instructive. Once the written judgment has been handed down, a further report will be prepared. So the analogy of Wardlaw would not apply. He stated, at pp 378 and 379: 104. The case involved a claim for dermatitis which the pursuer had developed after working in a hot and dusty atmosphere, pulling bricks out of the defenders' kiln. 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