Sir James Dyson is suing the EU for £200 million in damages stemming from EU regulations, which the billionaire British inventor defeated in the courts, but still cost him in sales and legal fees.
In 2017, Dyson won an appeal at the European Court of Justice after a protracted battle over EU regulations concerning bagless vacuum cleaners.
Dyson claimed poorly thought out EU testing procedures meant inefficient devices that use bags could receive a high energy rating. As a result, there was little to no incentive for manufacturers to innovate. Dyson cyclone vacuum cleaners are bagless.
Dyson’s win at the ECJ led to the court annulling the EU regulation, which he described as a “win for consumers”. Now he is looking to win back lost earnings from when the regulation was active, putting weak rivals on a level footing with his superior products that have enabled him to accumulate a £16.2bn fortune making him Britain’s richest man.
A spokesperson for Dyson said: “A long-fought legal the challenge, brought by Dyson against the EU Commission, resulted in the energy label regulation being annulled.
“This was a win for consumers since the EU commissions label misled them by overstating the energy efficiency of old-fashioned bagged vacuum cleaners. It tested the machines in a clean state, without dust, which is not reflective of real-life use conditions.
“Dyson technology was disadvantaged which led to significant engineering, research, development and promotional costs.
“It is now for the Court to determine the quantum of damages Dyson should be repaid.”
Dyson’s 2017 victory over the EU was not isolated in exposing testing failures. In 2014, it was revealed car manufacturers were able to easily manipulate regulators into believing they emitted fewer fumes than they actually did.
Although not active at the 2016 EU referendum, Dyson is a known Eurosceptic and “optimistic” about Britain’s future outside of the European Union.
“Every pound of investment and employment we spend in Britain is a vote of confidence in Britain,” Dyson wrote in a Telegraph op-ed in 2019 after it was announced he was moving his company headquarters to Singapore, which many commentators interpreted as a signal of a lock stock and barrel transfer of the company to the Far East, claims dismissed by Dyson as “downright stupid”.
“Export success has never been to the detriment of the UK – quite the opposite,” wrote Dyson in his piece. “Success abroad means we can invest more here, as we’re doing, with new money going into research and development, building new campuses, educating a future generation, and creating new jobs.
“In many ways, Dyson has changed beyond all recognition. China has quickly joined the US and Japan to be one of our largest markets, and others, such as Korea, Taiwan, and India, are growing rapidly meaning that Asia is an increasingly important region.”
Dyson, who was knighted in 2007 for services to industrial design, vowed no UK jobs would be lost.