18 December 2000
Lawyer warns of OP claim deadline

By FWi staff

FARMERS who believe they have been poisoned by organophosphate pesticides have been advised not to delay in claiming compensation.

Sheep-dippers and other would-be claimants must be aware that legal action needs to begin within three years, says lawyer Peter Bright.

However, Mr Bright, who has worked on several OP cases, admits the legal position is complicated by uncertainty over when the three-year deadline begins.

“While the deadline is straightforward for something like an accident which has a precise date, it is more difficult to define for OP poisoning.”

Mr Bright says it is not clear if the three-year period begins when the sufferer first feels the effects of OP poisoning, or when it is diagnosed.

A partner with Plymouth solicitors Nash & Co, Mr Bright is currently applying for legal aid from the Legal Services Commission for two clients.

One claims to have been affected by OP warble-fly treatment for cattle, and the other through working in horticulture. Both want damages from employers.

In another development, the commission has revealed that 27 claimants from an earlier action are appealing against a decision to end legal aid.

The commission withdrew funding after London solicitors Hodge Jones & Allen, which was working on a group action, said a case was unlikely to succeed.

Powys law firm Gabb & Co is trying to revive the action on behalf of 13 of those appealing and another 14 firms are representing the remainder.

New claimants are also involved in other submissions.

Manufacturers deny any link between low-level OP exposure and complaints of nausea, chest tightness, anxiety and depression.