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Report No. 62

10.77. Third Schedule-the word "sequelae".-

There are several items in the Third Schedule (list of occupational diseases), which use the word "sequelae", while describing certain diseases. For example, in Part A of the Third Schedule, one of the diseases listed is "compressed air illness or its sequelae". This word, which is peculiar to the language used by Pathologists, is derived from the Latin word "sequel", which means, "follow". The word connotes a morbid condition or symptom following upon some disease.

It would appear that this word caused some controversy in England1. One of the scheduled diseases in England (in the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1906) was "lead poisoning and its sequelae". The County Court Judge had found that the granular kidney (from which the diseased workman died) was one of the consequences of lead poisoning (a scheduled disease), but there was no finding that in this particular case it was consequent upon lead poisoning. An appeal was preferred and allowed. The Court of Appeal pointed out that these words had no operation unless it was first established to the satisfaction of the County Court Judge that lead poisoning was either the proximate or the ultimate cause of death, in the particular case. Cozens-Hardy M.R. observed as follows:-

"It is not sufficient that death was caused by something which may in some cases2 be a sequela of lead poisoning but may also be a sequela of gout or alcoholism. In short, it must be proved that death was a consequence of lead poisoning in the case of this particular individual, not necessarily a direct or immediate consequences but at least a remote consequence."

Farewell L.J. explained the meaning of the expression "sequelae", in the following terms:-

"It is clear, if sequelae be translated into plain English and called 'or its consequences"-i.e., the consequences, not a possible consequence3, the allegation then is that the man died not from lead poisoning, but from a consequence of lead poisoning and it is as necessary for him to prove this case as it would be for him to prove that he had died from lead poisoning if that had been the case. The schedule cannot be read as if the words were "lead poisoning or granular kidney"; it can only be "lead poisoning". It is impossible to have the consequence without the cause, which is the gist of the liability."

1. Hayleti v. Vigor & Co., (1908) 2 Kings Bench 337 (Court of Appeal).

2. Emphasis supplied.

3. Emphasis supplied.

10.78. It would, therefore, appear that the object of inserting the words "or its sequelae" in the Schedule to the Act was to prevent an employer from evading his liability to pay compensation on the ground that his employee had died, not actually from the scheduled disease, but from a complaint which supervened or was consequent upon it. At the same time, the death or injury must be traceable to a consequence of the scheduled disease.

10.79. Recommendation regarding the expression 'sequelae'.-

In view of what is stated above, it would be advisable to substitute, in the Third Schedule, for the words "its sequelae", (wherever they occur), the words "any disease caused thereby in the particular case", and we recommend accordingly.

Workmens Compensation Act, 1923 Back

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