This question is one that we as legal professionals in the Industrial Disease Department are asked on a regular basis. The simple answer to the question is, 'yes', it is possible. When we assess a potential claim for industrial injury or disease, there are a few legal hoops to jump through and a number of questions that we must answer:

1. Has the claim been brought to a solicitor's attention within the three year limitation period? - see here
2. Can we trace the company that a Claimant worked for?
3. Is this company still active or has it been dissolved? ; and, finally
4. Can we trace their employer's liability insurance provider for the whole period of employment?

We have access to registries of corporate information such as, Companies House or Duedil which are useful tools to find the information we require. However, the use of internet based sources are also widely used; these can include maps, forums, blogs or historical sources. The history of a business can be stored in many varied places, but sometimes the most invaluable source of information, is a client's memory. The use of these sources enable us to trace previous names a business may have traded under and to identify who the current liability of a company lies with. Each of these sources provide a different service and it is often a combination of information that we use to ascertain the correct details. We cross-reference different sources to ensure the information we find is correct before we approach a potential Defendant.

One of the main benefits of tracing a company and researching its history is to determine a company's current trading status. If a company or employer is still trading then this question is answered very simply, and a quick search will tell us who the current company is and where the letter of claim should be sent.

However, it is often the case that a Claimant's work history can span over many years and include a number of different employers. As a result of the time passed since employment it is not uncommon for businesses to have been knocked down, liquidated and/or dissolved. In such circumstances, there is no immediate legal body to pursue. In cases of this nature we can apply to have the company restored to the Register of Companies. Restoring a company is a lengthy, complex and costly process but it is necessary if Court proceedings are to be issued.

Although the history and current status of a company is important, tracing the insurers who were on risk during a Claimant's employment is imperative. Under the Employers' Liability Act 1969 it became compulsory for employers to insure against the liability of injury or disease inflicted on an employee as a result of their employment. Access to the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) plays a significant role in obtaining this information. ELTO is an independent, not-for-profit company which is designed to provide Claimants and their representatives with a quick and easy access database. The information which is provided by ELTO is provided from insurers directly gathered from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In an ideal world a company would have one insurer to cover their employer's liability every year from the day they began trading. However, like a person's home or car insurance, businesses do not stay with the same insurer each year. Potentially this could mean that over a 10 year employment, there could be 10 or more policies and insurers that have succeeded each other. Therefore tracing each of these insurers is no walk in the park.

Knowing the identity of the insurers is important as they are liable to pay varying proportions of any compensation awarded to a Claimant. ELTO is an immensely useful tool. Historically it has been an opt-in scheme and although employers are under a legal obligation to have insurance there is was no legal obligation to register their insurers with ELTO. However in April 2011 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) made it compulsory for insurers to publish their employer's Liability policies on their own websites or become a member of a tracing office which meets the FCA standards, such as ELTO.

Every case that Woodward Solicitors pursue is different. Our clients have worked for many different employers and every client is treated as an individual. The information detailed in this blog is a brief guide as to steps that we may take. Such cases are not straightforward, but even if the factory you worked in has been knocked down and converted into a housing estate, we can investigate a claim for you. It is a very rare occasion when evidence of a company's existence cannot be found. We are determined to do the best for our clients and do not stop searching until all avenues of investigation have been exhausted. So no matter how difficult you believe your case to be, we may be able to identify who has liability for the employers who injured you.

If you are interested in pursuing a claim for industrial injury or disease of any kind we are always here to help with our friendly and approachable staff. We are experts in industrial disease and illness claims and will be able to fully assess whether a potential Claimant has a valid case or not.


Charlotte Lyon BA (Hons)
Paralegal.Industrial Disease Department.

Charlotte joined Woodward Solicitors Industrial Disease Team in January 2013.

Sara Wallworth BSc (Hons)
Client Liaison Officer. Industrial Disease Department.

Sara is a recent addition to the Woodwards Team; she is a qualified Nurse and has significant experience in Customer Service and Personal Injury Legal Administration.