Sonae Factory Fire Now UK’s Largest Ever Compensation Claim

The number of claimants related to the Sonae factory disaster in 2011 now stands at 18,000, representing the UK’s largest ever compensation claim.

In January the owners of the Kirkby Sonae plant in Merseyside admitted liability for the fire that raged at the site for eight days in 2011. At the time, a spokesperson confirmed that the firm admitted a “breach of duty”, with the decision being welcomed as a “significant milestone for thousands” according to a local law firm.

Since January, that number of claimants has quadrupled from around 4,500 to 18,000, as the questionnaires answered in the wake of the fire had taken longer to process than anticipated. Due to the unprecedented number of claimants, an extension has been granted until November to secure the details of all those who suffered health problems following the fire.

The claim is the biggest ever in the United Kingdom, with no accident at work claims ever experienced on this scale previously. Speaking on the case and the extension until November, lead solicitor Anthony Wilson said: “We are very happy with the extension because it basically means the people of Kirkby get the opportunity to state their case properly and get the justice they deserve.”

The Sonae factory in Kirkby was a chipboard plant until it ceased operations in September 2012. Owned by Portuguese company Sonae Industria, the factory had been plagued with incidents in recent years, including the tragic deaths of workers James Bibby, 25, and Thomas Elmer, 27. Both were killed after being dragged into a conveyor at the plant. The inquest deemed that their deaths were the result of a failure to adopt the appropriate procedures, and that the men were not given proper training in controlling the conveyor.

For the 2011 fire, the case is set to go to court for a three-week trial commencing between July and September 2014.

If you have been affected by an accident at work and wish to speak to someone about if you are entitled to compensation, then get in contact with Blackwater Law today and a member of our professional and helpful team will be happy to talk to you.