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the British tobacco industry recently got a big boost when the largest legal action against it collapsed, drastically reducing Britain's chances of mounting a successful anti-tobacco litigation like its transatlantic neighbour, the us . The case collapsed on February 27, when 46 of a group of 53 lung cancer victims withdrew their high court damages claims against uk -based tobacco firm Imperial Tobacco and Gallaher. This has already been hailed as a legal landmark and a huge victory for the British tobacco barons. The claimants had to withdraw their claim after a court ruling said that most of them had moved the court too late.
Under British law, all claims for illness must be brought to court within three years of the first diagnosis. But it is very difficult to bring together a group of victims and then organise a claim within that period, the lawyers for the lung cancer victims said. Martyn Day, of Leigh Day solicitors, which sought action against the tobacco firms, said, "The procedural hurdles are simply too heavy. You face a mountain getting to trial." The tobacco industry had mobilised every single piece of legal weaponry they possibly could utilise, the British media reported. Further, British courts are far less sympathetic to such claims than their us counterparts.
Both the tobacco companies agreed not to initiate legal action against the claimants for astronomical legal costs, provided they agreed not to sue again. Though seven claimants are yet to drop their claims, it was unlikely that another legal firm would take up the case, legal experts said.