The Court of Appeal has ruled that the family of a deceased successful businessman had a financial dependency claim in spite of the business continuing to be profitable after his death.

In Rix v Paramount judges upheld a High Court ruling in favour of the widow of Martin Rix, who died in 2016 aged 60 from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos when he worked as an apprentice carpenter in the 1970s.

After leaving that job, Rix spent his working life building up a successful kitchen fitting business and was the main breadwinner in his family, with his wife financially dependent on him prior to his death.

Since 2016, the business continued to thrive, and the defendant insurers argued that his wife suffered no financial loss as she inherited the company.

Judges dismissed the appeal on all grounds, accepting that Mrs Rix had suffered a loss and that this should be calculated on her late husband’s potential future income from the business.

‘The fact that the company has thrived since Mr Rix’s death is irrelevant for the purpose of the calculation of Mrs Rix’s dependency,’ concluded Lady Justice Nicola Davies, who added that on the facts of this case, there was no identifiable element of the profits which was not touched by the management of Mr Rix.

Joanne Jefferies, the specialist asbestos-related disease solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said the groundbreaking case recognised an individual’s importance to the business but also that financial dependency should be based on the situation at the point of death.

She added: ‘This case pushes the boundaries of the law and in making the judgment; the court recognised the need to look at the practical realities in cases like this.’

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