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MaMarnus v Mannings Marine Limited, Court of Appeal

8 November 2001
The issues

Vibration white finger – limitation

The facts

The Claimant appealed from the Recorder’s decision dismissing the appellants claim for personal injuries of the Trial of the preliminary issue on limitation.

He had vibration white finger.

Since 1968 he worked in the ship building industry. In June 1989 he worked for Mannings Marine Limited for 12 days and for another 14 days between 1989 and 1990. In September 1992 he presented a claim to the DSS for industrial disabilities benefit for a prescribed disease. i.e. VWF. In his form he mentioned the Defendant as a named employer. Because his application fell under the Trade Union and Employers Insurers Scheme it was handled through ADR and not Litigation. The Insurers to the Defendant concluded that it was not reasonable for him to claim for his employment with this Defendant as he had been employed for such a short time. In May 1993 he was told by a consultant who saw him for the purposes of his application that if he worked further he would become significantly worse.

He continued to work. He worked for the Defendant again which in August 1993 to the end of November 1999. Whilst previously he had suffered VWF in two fingers in the left hand by now he suffered in all fingers and both thumbs. On the 2 December 1999 he issued proceedings.

The Judge found the relevant date of knowledge for the purposes of Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act 1980 was September 1992 at the latest. This was when he had made his application to the DSS and when he had named the Defendant as one of the named employers. The Judge refused to exercise his discretion to disapply under Section 33 of the Act and dismissed the claim.

The decision

1. The Claimants claim was not for the injury which he suffered in the period before 1993, but the exacerbation of the claim since then.

2. Section 14.1 of the 1980 Act should be read alongside Section 11. When Section 14 referred to “the injury in question” it meant the injury for which the action was brought

3. He should have asked at what date the Claimant knew the exacerbated injury was significant. He had failed to make any findings as to that. Accordingly Appeal allowed and limitation to be remitted to be considered at the Trial of the main claim.

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