Despite repeated attempts by the English over the past 800 years to subdue and dominate their fierce Celtic neighbors to the north, Scotland has often gotten the upper hand. Aside from the fact that at least one Scottish King sat on the English throne, Scottish armies since the Battle of Bannockburn have driven the Sassunach (“Saxons”) from the field more often than not. Scots continue to triumph over the English as their ongoing battles have moved from the field to the political and legal arenas. You may recall that back in November, the British Law Lords (the U.K. analogue of the U.S. Supreme Court) caved into lobbyists, declaring that patients suffering from pleural plaques–a symptom of asbestosis–would no longer be eligible for insurance compensation. Furthermore, the new law meant that asbestos victims could no longer sue their employers for asbestos exposure. Unlike the U.S. where the citizenry has often been silent in the face of such ongoing outrages, the outcry in the U.K. was loud and long–an’ the Scottish Parliament wud hae none o’ it. Although technically still part of the U.K., Scotland has been autonomous and governed by its own parliament since the 1990s.
In November, that government moved to overturn the judgment handed down by the House of Lords, and the new law will soon take effect. Frank Maguire, a solicitor advocate (litigator) with a Scottish law firm, said: “Now thankfully the Scottish Government recognises the injustice of that decision and is using its powers to overturn the House of Lords judgment by introducing legislation to fully restore victims’ rights.” He pointed out that “pleural plaques is not just a bit of scarring on the lungs, this is the calling card… I have 600 clients who have pleural plaques and they are living with the fear that it could develop into fatal conditions like mesothelioma.” The English parliament is now moving toward overturning this misguided and “dastardly” decision as well. Scottish Justice Secretary Ian MacAskill points out that while pleural plaques are not in themselves a disease, they indicate that the patient faces increased risk for developing mesothelioma or lung cancer. “The effects of asbestos are a terrible legacy of Scotland’s industrial past and we should not turn our backs on those who contributed to our nation’s wealth in the past,” he said.