Exposure to asbestos may result in serious illness and even premature death up to 70 years after the initial exposure. Exposure to asbestos can be as a result of a variety of different circumstances such as:

  • Employment – many of those that suffer with asbestos related illnesses have previously been employed in a trade that used asbestos products. Most commonly these include, builders, carpenters and plumbers who used products such as asbestos boards, rope, insulation and more.
  • Environment – some sufferers of an asbestos related disease are exposed to asbestos by working in a particular environment such as in factories, steelworks, on buildings site and ships where asbestos is used in and around the work environment. Less common environments also include hospitals, schools and farms.
  • Secondary Exposure – which can occur when dust and fibres released from asbestos related products are transferred from one person to another, an example of this is when a wife washing the overalls of her husband is exposed to asbestos who was working with or near asbestos related products.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis, or pleural thickening then you may have the right to make a compensation claim. Even those who have been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with lung cancer may be eligible to claim.


We understand what you’re currently going through and are here to help. If you have any questions, big or small, get in touch..

Our specialist asbestos solicitors represent victims and their families from all over the UK and are highly experienced in investigating asbestos claims to track down the responsible party.

We offer free advice and guidance while we investigate your claim without obligation to proceed. We can arrange home visits and can help you access, where appropriate, early interim compensation payments and benefit entitlements on a no win, no fee basis.


Asbestos related illnesses

Asbestos related illness can include:


Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumour of the mesothelium, a lubricating lining or layer around some of the major organs in the body. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and usually occurs from poor working conditions.

Mesothelioma most commonly affects the pleura (the lining around the lung). It can also affect the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) and less commonly the pericardium (the lining around the heart). Asbestos exposure is by far the most common known cause of mesothelioma. The risk of mesothelioma increases with the amount of mesothelioma asbestos each person someone has been exposed to.

Symptoms for asbestos mesothelioma usually take up to 40 years after the initial exposure, while shorter periods of around 20 years are less common but not unheard of. Periods of 10 years or less are very rare, primarily because the tumour is thought to begin to grow about 10 years before symptoms begin to be felt.

If you or a loved one has contracted mesothelioma by being exposed to asbestos at work, then you could be eligible to make a compensation claim.

The Hugh James specialist mesothelioma solicitors are highly experienced in helping families and people affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses make successful claims. 

We’re passionate about fighting for compensation and benefits for the families and people afflicted by asbestos mesothelioma.




Asbestosis is a fibrosis of the lungs caused by asbestos. The term asbestosis is sometimes used as a term for other asbestos conditions but medically this is incorrect.

Asbestosis usually develops 20 years or more after exposure to asbestos. It can develop sooner where someone has been exposed to very high levels of asbestos however.

Far more exposure to asbestos is required to cause asbestosis than pleural plaques, pleural thickening or mesothelioma. Asbestosis is usually a progressive disease which can cause increasing breathlessness and cough as it progresses. Typically the disease is more extensive the more asbestos you have been exposed to.

Asbestosis can remain stable for many years causing little disability though. The risk of developing other asbestos conditions rises when someone is diagnosed with asbestosis because of the high levels of asbestos they must have been exposed to in order to develop the condition. The risks arise out of the exposure to asbestos and not the presence of asbestosis.

Compensation for asbestosis depends on the extent of the symptoms it is causing and benefits are also available.



Asbestos related lung cancer

Any of the common types of lung cancer can be caused by asbestos. Lung cancer can also be caused by other things than asbestos though, such as smoking.

There are different schools of thought in the medical world about lung cancer caused by asbestos. There is agreement that the risk of lung cancer is increased according to the amount of asbestos someone is exposed to and the risks are further increased if someone has a history of smoking.

Some medical experts believe that asbestos related lung cancer can only be diagnosed if the patient also suffers with asbestosis.  It is now accepted amongst many medical experts that asbestos can cause lung cancer even where the patient does not have asbestosis. However, to prove that the lung cancer has been caused by asbestos, a history of considerable asbestos exposure needs to be proved. Far more exposure to asbestos is required to cause asbestosis, and asbestos lung cancer, than pleural plaques, pleural thickening or mesothelioma.

There is no typical period of time between the asbestos exposure and the onset of the asbestos related lung cancer.



Pleural thickening

Pleural thickening is a thickening of the pleural layers around the lung.  There are two layers around the lung and pleural thickening can affect both the inner and outer layer. Pleural thickening usually takes 20 years or more to develop after exposure to asbestos.

Pleural thickening does not usually cause breathlessness or chest pain until it is diffuse and bilateral, which is once it affects both layers on both lungs. Diffuse pleural thickening usually develops following a pleural effusion.

Pleural thickening alone does not develop into a more serious asbestos condition however if it becomes bilateral and diffuse it can cause increasing breathlessness. Typically the thickening is more extensive the more asbestos someone has been exposed to. The risk of developing other asbestos conditions arises out of the exposure to asbestos and not the presence of pleural thickening.

Compensation for pleural thickening depends on the extent of the symptoms it is causing.  If it is diffuse and bilateral benefits are also available.


If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos condition it is important that you find out as much as you can about your condition from your doctor.

Recent settlements

Mesothelioma settlement secured within five months

Mr P contacted Hugh James specialist asbestos team following his diagnosis with the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer that is solely caused by exposure to asbestos dust.

Mr P had worked at Triang Toys in Merthyr Tydfil in his early 20s where he was exposed to asbestos whilst working in the warehouse.  The girders in the warehouse were lined with asbestos insulation to protect against fire.  Unfortunately, the asbestos insulation was damaged by forklift trucks causing deadly asbestos dust to be generated.  The forklift trucks frequently collided with the girders damaging the asbestos and causing significant amounts of asbestos dust and debris to be discharged into the atmosphere and the workmen below.

Sadly Mr P was exposed to this asbestos dust which, over time, led to shortness of breath and eventually the development of mesothelioma.


Merchant Navy mesothelioma settlement

Stanley Henderson (Stan) contacted Hugh James following his diagnosis with mesothelioma.  Stan worked in the Merchant Navy for over 15 different shipping lines between 1958 and 1966 and again between 1969 and 1973.  In 1973 he transferred to the British Docks Board.

Stan joined the merchant navy as an Ordinary Seaman and worked up the ranks to a General Purpose One.  He was exposed to asbestos on a daily basis when working on maintenance and carrying out cleaning duties.  When working on board the dredgers Stan spent full shifts in a crane cab which was lined with asbestos which flaked and broke off into the air of the cab.  Stan was never provided with respiratory protection.

Many years later Stan was diagnosed with Mesothelioma.  Stan instructed Hugh James’ specialist asbestos team of solicitors. The claim was quickly settled to ensure that Stan and his wife will be able to use the compensation to ensure that his needs are catered for.

During his time in the Merchant Navy Stan worked for the following shipping lines: P&A Campbell, John I Jacobs & Co, Trinder Anderson & Co, Prince Line Ltd, Rochester Shipping Co, Albright & Wilson, Bolton Steam Shipping Co, Shell Tanker Co, Idwal Williams & Co, British Methane,  Charles Hill & Sons, Regent Line, Devon Shipping Co, British Tanker Co, France Fenwick & Co, Elders & Fyffes, Castle Line, Houlder Brothers, Charles Saville and British Dredging Shipping Ltd.

Stan was kind enough to record a testimonial video for us. To see more about Stan, you can view his video on this page.


Hugh James secures settlement for mesothelioma sufferer

Hugh James specialist asbestos lawyers were instructed by Mrs B following her diagnosis with mesothelioma.  At the time of her diagnosis Mrs B did not know where she had been exposed to asbestos.

Mrs B had worked as secretary to a factory manager at Harker Stagg Ltd (a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ineglheim) for two years after leaving school.  Following extensive investigations it was established that the factory Mrs B had worked in was lined with asbestos sheets.  Mrs B was able to recall typing up reports in the laboratory attached to the factory on a daily basis.  On occasions the maintenance team repaired and replaced the asbestos sheets located in the ceiling of the laboratory whilst Mrs B was going about her work.

Upon confirmation that the building contained asbestos medical evidence was obtained in support of the claim.  Following swift negotiations with the defendant Hugh James specialist asbestos lawyers settled Mrs B’s claim for £113,000.


Compensation for former Metal Box Co Ltd., Neath mesothelioma sufferer

Mr S was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos.

During his school holiday at the age of 17, Mr S spent two weeks working for Metal Box Co Ltd in Neath, South Wales.  Mr S’s job was to climb inside large industrial ovens which were lined with asbestos and scrape away the asbestos insulation.  Mr S went home covered in asbestos dust each day.  Many other schoolboys were employed by the company in similar roles stripping out old asbestos insulation.

Many years later Mr S was diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by previous asbestos exposure.  Following his diagnosis Mr S instructed Hugh James specialist asbestos lawyers.  An interim payment of £50,000 was quickly obtained from Metal Box Co Ltd and judgment entered against the company whilst the full value of Mr S’s claim was investigated.  The claim was swiftly resolved for a sum in excess of £300,000.


Key contact

Richard Green specialises in asbestos related disease claims. Primarily mesothelioma, asbestosis, diffuse pleural thickening and lung cancer.

View team

Your questions answered

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was first mined in South Africa in 1805. There are three different types of asbestos which have varying levels of toxicity; these being blue asbestos (crocidolite) which is believed to be the most potent, brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).

Asbestos was mainly used for its insulation properties and was often mixed with other materials. It was commonly used in steel production, ship building and construction. Over the years the UK has banned the import of asbestos, with the ban on blue and brown coming into force in 1985 and white asbestos being banned in 1999.

Whilst asbestos is no longer legally imported or used by industry in the UK many individuals continue to be exposed to its harmful fibres. Many buildings, including, schools and hospitals may contain asbestos.

Asbestos related illnesses can take decades to appear and with its heavy industrial use and presence in public and private buildings, we are still seeing large numbers of people being diagnosed with asbestos related diseases each year.

As the effects of asbestos exposure can take many decades to present themselves it is estimated that a further 60,000 people shall die from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma in the next 30 years in the UK alone.

Can I make an asbestos compensation claim?

If you have been diagnosed with an illness such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening then you should contact our specialist solicitors to find out whether you’re eligible for compensation. We will ask you some key questions about your working history and your illness so that we can make further investigations and advise you on the likelihood of your claim succeeding.

Our investigation process is free of charge and we will advise you in detail about the next steps before you agree to instruct us.

We may even be able to help you if your lung cancer has been attributed to smoking, if you have a history of working in an asbestos based environment.

If you decide to instruct us we will act on a no win, no fee basis which will be fully explained to you beforehand.

How do I make an asbestos exposure compensation claim?

Making the initial enquiry to see if you are able to pursue a mesothelioma compensation claim is easy, simply contact our specialist asbestos solicitors either via telephone or our online enquiry form.

We understand that dealing with a diagnosis of an asbestos related disease is difficult for both you and your family. To make pursing a compensation claim as easy as possible you will not have to visit any of our offices. We can arrange home visits across the country and shall verbally discuss everything with you via telephone.

In our initial consultation we shall discuss your potential claim free of charge, without obligation. If your claim has a reasonable chance of being successful we will then run you through your options and give you the opportunity to instruct us to act on your behalf on a no win, no fee, basis.

Our team of lawyers are accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Why choose us?

We are experts in dealing with mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease claims. The specialist Hugh James team will ensure that you and your family get the help you need.


We regularly help people who have been diagnosed with the following conditions:

  • mesothelioma;
  • asbestosis;
  • lung cancer; and
  • pleural thickening.

Our lawyers have been successfully handling industrial disease and asbestos cases for individuals and families for over 50 years. We understand that the time following diagnosis with an asbestos-related condition is distressing, so we provide on-going support for our clients and their families and make sure the process is as straightforward as possible.

We are relentless in the pursuit of justice. Our specialist team will provide expert legal advice to ensure you receive the best care, treatment and the highest level of compensation.

How much compensation will I receive?

This is personal to you and will depend upon the asbestos condition you suffer from. Many mesothelioma claims settle for sums between £100,000 and £400,000.

Our specialist team is experienced in ensuring that you and your family receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Compensation will include an award for the pain and suffering caused by your illness. In addition compensation can also be claimed in respect of care needs, financial losses, medical care and treatment.

How much will it cost?

Your claim will be dealt with under a no win, no fee agreement. If your claim is not successful it will not cost you anything. Please speak with one of our solicitors for more detail on how these agreements work.

What are the time limits?

You have three years from the date you were diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition to make a claim. There are exceptions to this and it is worth contacting us in any event, even if you are outside this time. If a loved one has passed away from an asbestos-related condition, you have three years from the date of their death.

Am I able to claim for pleural plaques?

It is no longer possible to claim compensation for pleural plaques in England and Wales. You may be able to claim compensation for pleural plaques if you were exposed to asbestos in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What if my former employer is no longer trading?

We will trace the employers’ liability insurers of your former employers who will be responsible for paying the compensation you are entitled to.

If your former employer did not have insurance, it may be possible to pursue a claim under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme if you suffer with mesothelioma.


Hugh James have been exceptional at a very difficult time. From the onset the procedure was clearly explained and if I had a query it was answered straight away. My case has been handled with great sensitivity. I can’t thank Hugh James enough and would recommend them to all my friends and family.

Eileen Inman


I am really pleased with the way Hugh James is dealing with my claim. They are most helpful and take the time to explain in detail anything I ask; nothing is too much trouble. I am treated with respect. I would like to thank the team; I would not hesitate in recommending Hugh James.

Peter Ruggles


The service I have received from Hugh James has been fantastic. I cannot fault anything. The team at Hugh James have always been there for me. I cannot emphasise enough the help they have given me; always on hand to give me advice. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone.

Raymond Parr

Case study video

Watch the story of Stanley Henderson. Hugh James successfully acted on his behalf in respect of his asbestos-related mesothelioma claim. Stan worked in the Merchant Navy for over 15 different shipping lines between 1958 and 1966 and again between 1969 and 1973. In 1973 he transferred to the British Docks Board. During this time he was exposed to asbestos which later led to him developing mesothelioma..

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