Leigh Day sues Cape for shirked payments to SA

Leigh Day & Co is suing building materials company Cape, the company that it successfully negotiated a £21m settlement with on behalf of South African miners with asbestosis

Following Cape's failure to fulfil its settlement agreement, Leigh Day has paid £20,000 out of its own pocket to maintain a South African trust that is distributing settlement payments to the affected miners.

The firm has acted for the miners on a pro-bono basis, but when the Middlesex-based company stopped making payments to the trust, the firm footed the bill for the running of the trust's office, including salaries, rent and other costs.

“It's the principle of the matter,” said Leigh Day partner Richard Meener on the decision to take further action against Cape. “The company thinks it can just mistreat people in South Africa.”

Meener said that on top of the £21m Cape agreed to pay to miners, the company also agreed to pay £50,000 for a medical review that it ordered prior to the settlement, as well the cost of establishing and running the trust. Both points, however, have been bones of contention.

While the company made initial payments to the trust, these stopped in July, at which point Leigh Day began footing the bill to ensure the miners were compensated and South African staff at the trust were paid. The company also missed its first settlement payment in June and failed to pay the £50,000 for the medical expenses.

Leigh Day took the company to the High Court a few months ago ordering it to pay the £50,000, but Cape did not pay up until 15 October. The matter is ongoing to recoup the rest of the money.

Davies Arnold Cooper is acting on behalf of Cape.