Thursday, July 29, 2004

James Hardie inquiry told law reforms needed

A massive shortfall in funds to compensate asbestos victims has led to a call for retrospective law [?] reform to stop parent companies avoiding their liabilities.

The inquiry into the foundation holding the former asbestos liabilities of James Hardie has been told bankruptcy law should also be reformed.

Lawyers assisting the inquiry say the compensation foundation established just three years ago by James Hardie needs more than $2 billion.

They says that shows the need for a public court-based way to ensure an insolvent or wound-up company keeps assets to compensate future victims.

They also argue the limited liability principle is allowing holding or parent companies to avoid the liabilities of underfunded subsidiaries.

They recommend law reform to make holding companies liable when people are killed or injured by company wrongs.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Greg Combet says the James Hardie company should ensure asbestos victims are able to gain access to adequate compensation.

He says it is one way of getting the company to face up to its obligations.

"This is a morally repugnant act," he said.

"We call on governments at all levels to take a stance on this and to do what is necessary to ensure that this injustice is reversed, and to work with unions and asbestos support services to bring about proper compensation for people who will suffer in the years to come also."

By Avoiding Liabilities 29 July 04

Ed: Any call though, no matter what the problem is for retrospective laws in relation to anyone is just corporate media and or government propaganda. Because that would be a blight on us all, no matter who wants it, because it is wrong at law.