INSURANCE giants began a last-ditch legal bid this week to end compensation for workers suffering from an asbestos related condition.
Up to £1 billion could have to be paid out to people with 'pleural plaques' if the insurers lose the case being heard in the Court of Appeal in London.
Insurers are challenging that the existence of pleural plaques is a disease in its own right.
Pleural plaques indicate a potential exposure to asbestos and increase the risk that the sufferer will develop mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer.
Sufferers have previously been able to claim on the strength of this and in the USA make up 75 per cent of all asbestos claims.
In March a judge ruled that pleural plaques are a valid compensation claim in a test case.
Insurers are appealing against the decision and a judgement is due in the new year.