Kenyan farm workers win right to sue Scots tea firm for millions

Former tea pickers claim they suffered serious neck and back injuries due to the poor working conditions.

Kenyan farm workers win right to sue Scots tea firm James Finlay for millions Getty Images

Kenyan workers have won a “historic victory” in a multi-million pound legal case against Scottish tea company James Finlay and Company.

Several plaintiffs brought the lawsuit on behalf of a larger group who allege unsafe working conditions by James Finlay Kenya led to injuries. 

The tea pickers claim they suffered serious neck and back injuries on the company’s tea farms in Kericho.

The workers also previously penned a letter to King Charles in their pursuit of justice.

Patrick McGuire partner at Thompsons Solicitors and lawyer for the Kenyan workers said: “It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of today’s judgment. It is a historic day in Scots Law. It represents the passing of two key milestones in the Kenyan workers’ journey for justice.

“And it serves as a stark message to every company based in Scotland that they must take their employees’ safety seriously no matter where they work around the world.  

“The court has spoken – if you choose to set your company up in Scotland then the Scottish Courts will follow you wherever you operate.”

He added: “James Finlay’s approach to this litigation to date shows that they are prepared to play every trick in the book to evade responsibility for the damage that they have caused to thousands of their current and former employees who they forced to work in quite literally back breaking conditions.  

“Today they have been told by the court that their chicanery has failed and they must come to court and, if they can, defend those conditions that have been described by some as modern day slavery.  

“They of course cannot defend those conditions I therefore call upon them to finally do the right thing and pay fair and just compensation to all of the claimants in these Group Proceedings.”

A Finlays spokesperson said: “The safety and welfare of everyone connected with our business is always our number one priority. James Finlay Kenya is legally established in Kenya and we respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Kenya as an independent state and are bound by her Constitution and laws.

“We believe that the proper place to address allegations brought by Kenyan citizens regarding their employment in Kenya is in the Kenyan Courts. We are therefore reviewing Lord Weir’s Opinion and deciding on appropriate next steps.”

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