Ecumenical Memorial Speech
Dear Members and Friends
On Friday we held the ADSA 23rd Ecumenical Memorial Service for the victims of preventable asbestos caused diseases. This year we highlighted and honoured the memory of Peter Hays and Tim Barrows epic fight for justice against the corporate giant CSR 30 years ago.
We were very pleased that Peter Heys’s widow Nita and their son Clayton were with us.
The address was delivered by Rob O’Connor QC and it is an important reminder of those past events and the reinforcement of the role of employers that they have an obligation to protect their workers from harm.
I have attached a snippet below but we will make the full speech available on our website. It is an important document that can be viewed here: Ecumenical Memorial Speech
Peter Heys and Tim Barrow can be very proud of the vitally important role played in delivering justice for all other and subsequent asbestosis and mesothelioma sufferers. Peter and Tim were very courageous gentlemen who fought the brave fight against mesothelioma for as long as they could. Despite their very poor medical and physical condition and suffering, they were prepared to put themselves forward as test case litigants against CSR and Midalco, even though this caused them great stress and strain.
Over 15,000 documents were examined in preparation for the cases. At the trial, 69 witnesses gave evidence and 730 exhibits were tendered. The transcript of proceedings totalled 11,000 pages.
The Court decision in their cases dramatically changed the position for all other claimants against CSR and Midalco, both in Western Australia and elsewhere. The most direct result of the victory in the Heys and Barrow cases was that the underlying principle of liability was established for another further 350 pending cases which meant that in those other 350 pending cases, and the 1000’s of cases which would arise in the future, settlement could be reached between the parties as to what amounts of compensation should be paid.
In his decision, Justice Rowland made a two-page list of findings which held that Midalco had engaged in various actions which in reality it had carried out for CSR. Justice Rowland concluded (p 218)-
“Now, whether one defines all of the above in terms of agency, and in my view it is, or control, or whether one says that there was a proximity between CSR and the employees of (Midalco), or whether one talks in terms of lifting the corporate veil, the effect is, in my respectful submission, the same. There was “the necessary degree of proximity of relationship” between each plaintiff and CSR to give rise to a duty of care on the part of CSR to take reasonable care for the safety of each plaintiff commensurate with and identical to the duty owed by (Midalco). And it failed to exercise such care. For the reasons I have previously outlined, the knowledge, actions and responsibilities of the directors of (Midalco) are also those of CSR. … In my view, CSR is liable to each plaintiff.”
That conclusion meant success for Peter Heys and Tim Barrow and thousands of other workers and their families!