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Legislative Victory for Silicosis Sufferers

Coleman -v- Caesarstone Australia Pty Limited Pty Ltd &Ors [2021] QSC 125

VBR Lawyers proudly stand by Mr Coleman and all sufferers of silicosisand other dust related conditions and continue to fight for their access to compensation.

The Supreme Court of Queensland has recently determined that persons suffering from silicosis and other dust related conditions should have easier access to compensation for all of their injuries, including the psychological impact caused by these devastating diseases.

The public liability legislation in Queensland is presently worded in a way that allows a person suffering from a dust related condition, such as silicosis, to avoid the need to comply with various pre-court procedures prior to commencing Court proceedings. This is due to the wording of the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 which states at section 6(3)(b) “this Act does not apply to – personal injury that is a dust-related condition”.

The ability to avoid these pre-court procedures allows sufferers of dust related lung injuries to rapidly progress a claim to final resolution or determination.  Having access to early hearing and resolution of claims for people suffering from dust related conditions is critical given the nature of these often progressive lung conditions.

However, a strict reading of this legislation does not afford the same benefit to injuries that are not considered “dust-related” conditions such as the psychological impact of these devastating lung injuries.

This creates a strange and complicated situation where sufferers of dust related lung injuries can commence rapid Court proceedings in relation to their lung injury but are required to comply with various pre-court steps before commencing a common law claim for other injuries, including any consequential psychological injury.

To avoid these pre-court procedures, the sufferers of dust related conditions are often required to obtain orders from the Court to dispense with the need to comply with these pre-court steps.  This process increases costs and causes delays.

VBR Lawyers have strongly advocated that it could not have been the intent of parliament to abolish the need to comply with these pre-court requirements in relation to dust related lung injuries, including silicosis, but to leave these pre-court hurdles in place with respect to any secondary injuries caused by these conditions.

The Honourable Justice Bowskill agreed with these submissions.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court has made a declaration that the relevant public liability legislation should be read as though it provided “this Act does not apply to – personal injury that is or results from a dust-related condition”.

The inclusion of the wording “or results from” ensures sufferers of dust-related lung injuries can rapidly progress a claim with respect to both their dust related lung injury and the psychological impact of the condition.

At paragraph 29 of her judgement, Justice Bowskill stated: –

“The clear purpose of the exemption provided for in s 6(3)(b) was to “effectively exempt sufferers of dust related diseases from key procedural requirements in the legislation”, in order to ensure, as far as possible, that they were not hampered in their ability to obtain an early hearing and resolution of their claims.  This was regarded as important because of the significant reduction in life-expectancy for sufferers of these deadly diseases.  In that context, an interpretation of the exemption provision which could require a person claiming for a dust-related condition to comply with the procedural requirements of the legislation for a causally related personal injury that is not itself a “dust-related condition” is illogical, unreasonable and inconsistent with the clear purpose of the provision”.

The declaration from the Supreme Court of Queensland is an important step towards protecting the rights and entitlements of Queenslanders suffering from dust-related lung injuries and ensuring they are afforded access to an early hearing and resolution of their claim, not only in respect of a dust related lung injury, but also with respect to any injuries that result from their dust-related condition.

A copy of the recent judgement from the Supreme Court of Queensland can be viewed at the following link:

Senior Associate
Zach has represented many clients throughout Queensland, interstate and overseas and has successfully negotiated many significant and complex cases and has extensive experience in various types of compensation claims.
Sean is proud to be a lawyer for everyday people no matter what their issue. He has practised in compensation law for all his legal career and he has a superb track record of achieving outstanding results for his clients.

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