Dyson wins important battle in Brussels over vacuum rules

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), has told Sir James Dyson that he should bring a £150m damages claim against the Brussels vacuum cleaner regulations.

The opinion of a senior advisor to the EU’s top court gave the Brexit-backing innovator fresh hope in his decade long legal battle with Brussels regarding green rules that he claims has harmed the sales of Dyson’s products.

A lower EU court dismissed the damages claims against the European Commission regarding rules governing A to G energy efficiency labels.

Advocate general Tamara Capeta, however, said that the Commission’s mistake was “sufficiently grave” to warrant the case being considered.

She asked the ECJ not to reverse the decision of the lower court, but to send the case back so that the other potential damages can be investigated.

Dyson’s spokesperson said: “It took ten years for us to get to this point with regard to a regulation that misled consumers both in Britain and in the EU, and caused Dyson to suffer.

We welcome the opinion of the advocate general in support of Dyson’s appeal, and we await the decision of the court at the appropriate time.”

Although the advice of the Luxembourg Court’s Advocate General does not bind EU judges, they are usually followed.

In a battle that began in 2013, Sir James won his case against the Energy Labelling Directive. He claimed it put his bagless cleaning products at a disadvantage compared to cleaners who use bags.

The 76-year old entrepreneur became rich after invented the bagless dual cyclone vacuum cleaner.

His lawyers argued the EU-backed empty-bag test to measure energy efficiency of vacuums was not representative of real-world situations.

The bag will eventually become dusty, which reduces the energy efficiency.

Dyson claimed that the flawed test misled customers and placed bagless cleaners in a disadvantage, because their rivals who used bags had falsely inflated ratings of efficiency.

The company was successful in its lawsuit after five years. In 2017, the ECJ ruled that the commission had violated its own efficiency laws by allowing the empty-bag test.

In 2018, the regulation was repealed. Dyson then filed a claim of €176m for damages (£150m) based on the loss of sales and the increased costs resulting from the new rule.

The lower EU court dismissed in 2021 the damage claim as being not serious enough to be taken into consideration. Dyson appealed.

Before the ECJ can consider the appeal, the Advocate General’s opinion is required.

The UK and other European countries have been a lightning rod of Eurosceptics because the energy efficiency standards for vacuum cleaners are so strict.

The cleaners claimed that the new regulations would make them less powerful.

The UK was required to adhere to EU regulations, including vacuum cleaner rules, until midnight on December 31, 2020, at which point it would leave the Brexit transition period as well as the EU.

Before the deadline, these rules were incorporated into British law.

The European Commission stated: “We will carefully study the opinion, but we remind you that this only represents a first step in the process.”

The Court has the final word on this case, and we will wait for its judgement.