Skip to main content

Contact us to arrange your
FREE initial consultation

Call me back Email us

Written on 26th September 2023 by Martin Anderson

Martin Anderson acted for Michael following his diagnosis of mesothelioma. Michael was fit and well up until around 2021, when he started to experience shortness of breath.  He saw his GP about it on a number of occasions and he was eventually referred to Royal Berkshire Hospital.  He later had a biopsy, after which he was advised that the results confirmed a diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Michael was exposed in the late 1980s when removing old asbestos lagging from pipes, before re–lagging the pipes with fibreglass or rockwool. When he first started working there, no precautions were taken at all.  Michael and his co – workers simply used to hack the lagging off the pipes with hammers and chisels, which generated huge amounts of dust.  Afterwards, they swept up all of the dust and put it into bags.

Claiming compensation for self–employed contractors

The claim was complicated by the fact that the company Michael worked for engaged him as a self-employed contractor.  This can cause a number of problems in these types of cases.

Firstly, because he was self–employed, the company he worked for are not mentioned on any of his HMRC records.  This can make it more difficult to prove that he worked for the Defendant company.  Fortunately, he had kept a work pass from over 30 years ago which had both his name and the company name on it. 

The other difficulty that arises in these cases is that Defendants will usually argue that, since he was not an employee, they owed him no duty of care.  We therefore had to show that Michael was a ‘quasi – employee’ meaning that, despite his self–employed status, he was to all intents and purposes an employee of the company. 

There are three factors that are taken into account when determining whether or not someone should be treated as an employee:

  1. Personal service – the employee performs the work themselves and does not have the right to send a substitute in their place.

  2. Control – the employer controls where and when the employee works and what work they do.

  3. Mutuality of obligation – the employer has an obligation to provide work and the employee has an obligation to carry it out.  If a worker is free to decline work and only work as when they wish to do so, this would be indicative of self–employment. 

We took a detailed witness statement from Michael which confirmed that he worked for the company from Monday to Friday for around 8 hours a day and did not work for anyone else. They told him where he had to work and what his duties were and provided all of his tools. If he wanted to take time off for holiday, he had to get approval from the company. 

We also took a witness statement from one of Michael’s former colleagues who corroborated everything Michael said and confirmed that it was normal practice at the company for people to be engaged as self–employed contractors when they were effectively employees.

While the Defendant’s insurers initially denied that Michael had any right to make a claim due to his employment status, they changed their position after we sent the witness statements to them.  They then made an offer in settlement following service of the Schedule of Loss and the medical evidence and Michael instructed us to accept it on his behalf.

For more information about how the mesothelioma and asbestos disease claims team can help you or your loved ones after a diagnosis of an asbestos related disease, please contact the team by email on or by telephone on 0118 952 7199.