Silicosis Class Action
Studies have revealed that the cause of Silicosis is as a result of exposure to respirable silica dust. Action proceedings have been instituted in the South Gauteng High Court against Anglo American Corporation South Africa Ltd (AASA), who in terms of their service contracts was responsible for advising the mines on matters including health and safety and technical matters.
Leigh Day and Associates have issued a summons in London on behalf of 450 ex – gold miners who have contracted silicosis. The rationale behind issuing summons in London is as follows. Firstly, the issuing of the summons will stay prescription. Secondly, the damages awarded by the Courts in the United Kingdom are usually much higher than what courts in South Africa are prepared to award. Thirdly, the legal costs will have to be paid in full by the losing party and it will not affect the capital awarded in damages. Read more about this on the Leigh Day and Associates website.
The LRC is continuing to work on test cases and have as a result identified new clients to add to the list of ex-miners who suffer from Silicosis, which is important especially in light of some of the plaintiffs having died. It has been decided that some of the test cases will be taken to Arbitration in order to speed up proceedings. The decision was firstly based on proceedings usually being quicker than court proceedings and thus more beneficial for many of the ex-miners who are terminally ill. Secondly, the judgment of the Arbitration will carry as much weight as a reported judgment of the court. Judge Farlam, Judge Hurt and Judge Ngcobo (Former Chief Justice) have been appointed as the Arbitration Panel and the Arbitration Hearing has been scheduled February 2014. An aspect of the Arbitration focussing on the non-disclosure of certain documents necessary for conducting the damages claim will however take place in 2013 before two members of the panel by agreement between the parties.
The LRC have also consulted with each of the applicants in order to obtain their evidence on affidavit in the event of any of them dying before the matter is argued in court. At present the discovery process is still on-going.