A carpenter’s story - £1/4 million mesothelioma claim

Compensation for Chatham dockyard asbestos victim

A carpenter’s story - £1/4 million mesothelioma claim

In this asbestos mesothelioma compensation claim we acted for Jean, the widow of Derek from Gillingham, Kent, a former carpenter working at the Chatham Dockyards, Kent between 1956 and 1962. He never went on board a ship at Chatham dockyards, yet as a carpenter he was exposed to asbestos most days at Chatham dockyards. As a carpenter he maintained and repaired asbestos parts to Chatham dockyard buildings, including: cutting up flat asbestos sheets, asbestos corrugated sheets and fury asbestos “packing” tape. As a carpenter at Chatham dockyards, Kent he used both hand and electric saws on these asbestos products. Over 50 years after leaving Chatham dockyards his asbestos exposure as a carpenter led to Derek developing mesothelioma. He died from mesothelioma a year later aged 76.

Our approach

Two days after Derek called us we met him & Jean at their home in Gillingham, Kent. He had just been diagnosed with mesothelioma from asbestos exposure as a carpenter at Chatham dockyards, Kent. We took a full statement. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) are responsible for claims arising Chatham dockyards, Kent.  We promptly sent them a full letter of claim seeking compensation for asbestos-related mesothelioma. Sadly, Derek’s disease was already quite advanced and within 3 weeks of meeting him he had died due to mesothelioma. We continued the asbestos compensation claim for Jean. The MoD admitted liability for causing Derek’s mesothelioma from his asbestos exposure as a Chatham dockyards carpenter. We secured for Jean interim compensation of £50,000 for Derek’s mesothelioma. Our consultant chest physician provided a supportive report confirming Derek’s death due to mesothelioma caused by his asbestos exposure as a carpenter at Chatham dockyards, advising that but for his mesothelioma he should have lived for another 8 years.

We met with Jean again to prepare a full schedule of losses for the mesothelioma compensation claim. We served this with full supporting evidence but the MoD failed to make a compensation offer for Derek’s mesothelioma. We therefore issued High Court proceedings to formally seek compensation for Derek’s mesothelioma due to his asbestos exposure as a carpenter at Chatham dockyards, Kent. The claim was calculated at up to £275,000, allowing room to come down in negotiating the claim.

Court directions were agreed to take this mesothelioma claim up to an assessment of damages trial with a quick timetable to maximize pressure on the MoD to settle. They initially offered £220,000 for this asbestos disease claim. Jean worried about rejecting this, but we assured her this was too low and we were hopeful of achieving £250,000. We required the other solicitors to give a breakdown of the mesothelioma compensation offer so we could identify where we disagreed. With patience and persistence we politely “educated” them as to why they had undervalued various aspects of this asbestos compensation claim by reference to supporting evidence and case law. One particular issue was the large claim for domestic services; as with many asbestos disease victims, being a very practical ex-carpenter, Derek’s services were quite extensive. 

The outcome

Through 6 weeks of negotiations we persuaded the defendant’s solicitors to significantly increase. We made our own final offer to settle Derek’s mesothelioma claim for a compromise figure of £250,000, which we persuaded them to accept, a £30,000 increase on their original offer. The mesothelioma claim compensation could not make up for the family’s tragic loss of Derek, whose asbestos exposure as a carpenter had taken before his time. However, Jean was pleased to have the mesothelioma claim compensation to share with their grandchildren.


I can’t thank you enough for all the help and support you gave me for getting compensation for the death of my husband. It was very much appreciated.