Can I get compensation for pleural plaques?

Posted: 10th Oct 20 8:00 AM

Pleural plaques, a benign and non-cancerous asbestos-related disease, develop after inhaled asbestos fibres cause localised scarring or calcification of the pleura – the lining of the lungs and rib-cage. Some confusion surrounds the ability to claim for pleural plaques, as it is only compensable following exposure to asbestos while working in certain parts of the UK.

Pleural plaques, a disease that can only be caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres, is the most commonly diagnosed asbestos-related disease.

There have been several changes to the legislation of compensation for pleural plaques in the last few decades and because of this, there is no one answer to the question: “Can I get compensation for pleural plaques?” across the United Kingdom.

Pleural plaques compensation Scotland Northern Ireland

Before 2007, it was possible to claim financial compensation for pleural plaques without having to give too much thought as to which member country of the UK you were exposed to asbestos, on the basis that the disease was a definitive indicator of the presence of asbestos in your body.

It was perceived that an individual with pleural plaques was at a higher risk of developing a more serious asbestos-related disease later in life. Compensation was given for the stress and anxiety this could cause.

House of Lords decision

On 17 October 2007, the House of Lords unanimously ruled that anyone who developed pleural plaques following exposure to asbestos in the course of their employment would not be able to claim compensation for their employers’ negligence.

This ruling, known as the Rothwell decision, upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision made January 2006 that pleural plaques do not constitute a compensable injury, as the plaques themselves are harmless.

Claiming for pleural plaques in Scotland and Northern Ireland

In 2009, the Scottish Parliament passed an act allowing people who have developed pleural plaques from exposure to asbestos through work.

Although this act was challenged, the UK Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that it was lawful, and people in Scotland could claim compensation if they have been diagnosed with pleural plaques.

Following the decision made by the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly introduced The Damages (Asbestos-Related Conditions) Bill Northern Ireland in December 2011, restoring the right of people in Northern Ireland suffering from pleural plaques to claim compensation.

There are strict time limits on pleural plaques claims in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We encourage you to get in touch as quickly as possible if you have been diagnosed with pleural plques following exposure to asbestos in Scotland or Northern Ireland, as we can put you in touch with expert solicitors who can deal with your claim.

Can I claim compensation for pleural plaques in England or Wales?

In England and Wales, the UK Government has refused to follow Scotland and Northern Ireland’s decisions and has ruled out reinstating the right to pursue a civil claim for pleural plaques.

However, this will not rule you out of being able to claim compensation should you go on to develop another asbestos-related disease later in life.

If you are diagnosed with pleural plaques, or know that you have worked with and been exposed to asbestos, it is important to keep vigilant with your health. If you notice any changes to your breathing or start to suffer from any respiratory problems, always speak to your doctor and describe any symptoms you have been suffering from.

National Asbestos Pleural Plaques Register

At the National Asbestos Helpline, we have established a national register for people diagnosed with pleural plaques after being exposed to asbestos in England and Wales.

Joining the National Asbestos Pleural Plaques Register provides us with the means to give you the latest news and information about pleural plaques and other asbestos-related diseases, as well as updates to our services.

As a member of the register, you will have access to our range of support and services, as well as receive the National Asbestos Helpline Newsletter a few times every year.

If you have been diagnosed with pleural plaques or another asbestos-related disease, such as pleural thickening, asbestosis or mesothelioma, and would like to learn more about making a claim, get in touch with the National Asbestos Helpline today. You can call us on 0800 043 6635, or send an email to

Further reading

National Asbestos Pleural Plaques Register

Practical Information

What are pleural plaques?

Pleural thickening and pleural plaques – What are the differences?

How long does it take to develop an asbestos-related disease?

Is there a time limit on asbestos compensation claims?