A landmark legal challenge will be filed in Britain on Monday over cotton imports from Uzbekistan in a case lawyers say could pave the way to stop slave-made goods entering the European Union (EU).

The legal action says imports of Uzbek cotton into EU nations are unlawful because the bloc has applied preferential tariffs without investigating the human rights situation in Uzbekistan or its compliance with international law obligations.

This violates EU rules and means many of its 28 members are facilitating a trade in cotton produced by a state-driven system of forced labour, according to the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), the civil society group behind the case.