Leigh Day & Co has lodged High Court compensation claims on behalf of more than 1,500 South Africans who were exposed to asbestos while working for a UK-based company.
The action follows a landmark Lords ruling refusing the company, Cape, leave to appeal against an earlier ruling allowing the case to be brought in the UK.
Leigh Day has set up a base in South Africa because of the number of asbestos cases it is handling.
Partner Richard Meeran, who is in charge of the cases, says: “I hope that now Cape has been defeated in its attempt to try the cases in South Africa we won't see anymore delaying tactics.”
Cape is the parent company of subsidiaries involved in mining blue and black asbestos. It has already paid out damages for hundreds of UK workers after it was claimed that the company has known of the serious effects of exposure to asbestos since 1931 when asbestos regulations were introduced in Britain.
Under South African law individuals cannot sue their employers for negligence, but have to make do with small amounts of compensation given out by the department of occupational diseases.
Meeran says the case could mark an important development in compensation claims in the UK because it deals with the question of whether an English parent company has a duty of care for its overseas operations.