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Migrant workers win permission to appeal high court decision in case against Dyson companies

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Migrant workers win permission to appeal high court decision in case against Dyson companies

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The case involves allegations of forced labor, false imprisonment, assault, and hazardous working and living conditions at a Malaysian factory

A group of migrant workers has secured permission to appeal a High Court decision that their legal action against Dyson UK and a Dyson Malaysian company should be heard in Malaysia, not England.

The appeal, set for November 26 or 27, 2024, follows a 2023 High Court ruling favoring Dyson's argument that the claims lack sufficient UK connection and should be addressed in Malaysia. Dyson, now headquartered in Singapore, successfully challenged the jurisdiction under forum non conveniens grounds, marking a significant post-Brexit legal precedent as claimants lost certain EU protections against such challenges.

Represented by the international human rights law firm Leigh Day, the workers contend the case pertains to Dyson UK companies and belongs in the English courts, citing concerns over accessing justice in Malaysia. The legal action includes 23 migrant workers and the estate of a deceased worker from a factory in Johor, Malaysia, where many Dyson products were made.

The workers, from Nepal and Bangladesh, allege exploitation and severe conditions during their employment, producing Dyson’s vacuum cleaners, lighting, haircare, heaters, and fans over three to nine years. They argue Dyson knew about these conditions since whistleblower Andy Hall alerted the company in November 2019, and that such conditions have been widely reported over the past decade.

Dyson denies responsibility for any unlawful acts by ATA Industrial, the factory operator, and disputes having knowledge of wrongdoing since 2019, claiming investigations found no substantiation of Hall’s allegations. The workers assert that Dyson was unjustly enriched by the alleged unlawful conditions and is liable due to its awareness and public statements on preventing forced labor in its supply chains.

Leigh Day partner Oliver Holland expressed the workers' satisfaction with the permission to appeal, highlighting the importance of the English High Court hearing cases against UK-based companies for overseas operations or supply chain harms to ensure justice for foreign claimants. Holland hopes the appeal will clarify the post-Brexit jurisdiction rules under forum non conveniens.

The legal claim targets Dyson Technology Limited and Dyson Limited in Malmesbury, UK, and Dyson Malaysia in Johor Bahru, seeking accountability for the alleged exploitation and unsafe conditions at the Malaysian factory.

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