Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Cape Fear revisited: not as stormy as we thought? David Thompson v Renwick Group

By David Vaughan

The Court of Appeal has unanimously held that a parent company was not liable for industrial disease suffered by an employee of a subsidiary.

The judgment in David Thompson v Renwick Group plc [2014] distinguished the ruling of the same court in Chandler v Cape plc [2012], on which we commented two years ago.

A parent company would not usually expect to be liable for obligations incurred by its subsidiaries. In the absence of express guarantees or indemnities in relation to another party’s liabilities, each company in a group is a separate legal entity, responsible only for its own liabilities. However, the decision in Chandler v Cape plc demonstrated that, in certain quite special circumstances, this may not always hold good…

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