The Scottish Court has on 13th July 2022 stopped James Finlay (Kenya) Ltd (‘Finlay) from threatening, intimidating employees and from destroying, removing, or altering medical or employment records required as evidence in court concerning a case filed against it by Kenya tea workers.
RKO Advocates LLP in Kenya working as co-counsel with Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland and Ozon Solicitors in England moved to court in Scotland at the Court of Session with complaints about harassment of workers and successfully obtained an interim interdict order on 8 April 2022 against Finlay in Kericho ordering them from intimidating or threatening any Tea workers employees in any way at their estates in Kenya. They were prevented from engaging in any conduct or act calculated to intimidate any employees or dissuade them from joining the case in Scotland or continuing with the case against Finlay. The tea workers had complained against Finlay’s actions and conduct which were engaging in destroying and altering medical and employment records required in the court in Scotland. The employees also complained of being threatened and intimidated as a result of being part of the case in Scotland.
The workers filed Affidavits including one by an employee who complained that being part of the case resulted in threats concerning his disabled son who depends on the treatment and support from Finlay’s Medical facilities and was threatened with consequences of dismissal to which would, in turn, affect his disabled son. Another employee complained that his house had been broken into after his dismissal and his refusal to hand back a dismissal letter previously issued with reasons linking him to the Scottish case, which he believes was aimed at hiding the fact that he had been sacked for suing Finlay in Scotland.
Finlay was on Friday 13th July 2022 ordered by an agreed undertaking signed by the Directors of Finlay and recorded in court before Lord Braid, that James Finlay (Kenya) Limited or their servants, agents, employees, or anyone acting under their authority, direction, control or instruction undertake not to;
i. destroy, alter or remove any part of any employment or medical records of any of their employees engaged in tea harvesting operations in Kenya on plantations owned by them or acting in any other way that jeopardises the preservation of those documents more fully described in annex A (All books, medical records, reports, charts, x-rays and notes and any other documents comprising medical records or employment records (whether so described or not) and held by or on behalf of the Respondent, James Finlay (Kenya) Limited, a company incorporated under the Companies Acts with company number SC013800 and having its registered office at Swire House, Souter Head Road, Altens, Aberdeen, AB12 3LF, and relating to former and current employees of the Respondent who were employed or are employed at their tea estates in Kenya in tea harvesting operations at those plantations);
ii. make any threat whatsoever, whether by words or actions, to any employee at any of their estates in Kenya which is calculated to intimidate any employee and dissuade that employee from joining in or continuing with or commencing litigation against James Finlay (Kenya) Limited in Scotland;
iii. issue any unlawful threat of dismissal to any employee currently named in the group register with the intention of dissuading that employee from joining in or continuing with or commencing litigation against James Finlay (Kenya) Limited in Scotland;
iv. act in any manner not in accordance with due process in the court of either Scotland or Kenya that is calculated to cause fear, alarm or distress to those employees and former employees of the respondent as named on the group register with the intention of dissuading those employees or former employees from continuing with litigation against James Finlay (Kenya) Limited in Scotland.
The above undertaking will expire upon the conclusion of the Group Proceedings with Court Reference CP3/21.
The presiding Judge, Lord Braid said he was satisfied with the position adopted by the parties and awarded costs against Finlay. On acceptance of the undertaking given by Finlay’s directors, the original interdict has been sisted for the time being meaning the matter could be reopened in the future if tea workers find a reason to complain and go back to court with the same complaints.
This now means that if any James Finlay (Kenya) Ltd tea worker, whether they have sued or not in Scotland, or intend to continue or join the case is threatened or intimidated in any way, they can now report such threats or acts of intimidation to RKO Advocates LLP to take immediate action in Scotland with their Co-Counsel, Thompson Solicitors and Ozon Solicitors. Finlay is represented by CMS Cameron Mckenna LLP, Nabarro LLP and Olswang LLP. Andrew Smith QC appeared for the Tea Workers, whilst Lord Davidson of Glen Clova QC appeared for Finlay.