British shipping companies that sell old vessels to be scrapped cheaply in dangerous, low-paid conditions in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan may now be sued in London for workers’ deaths or injuries.

In the first ruling of its kind by any higher court anywhere in the world, the court of appeal of England and Wales has held that a shipping company in London selling a vessel in south Asia could owe a legal “duty of care” to shipbreaking workers in Bangladesh even where there are multiple third parties involved in the transaction.

The landmark ruling means that Hamida Begum whose husband, Khalid Mollah, fell to his death in 2018 while working high up on a 300,000-ton oil tanker on the beach at Chittagong will now be able to sue the shipping company Maran (UK) in London.