Judge Rules Out Late Applicants in PIP Breast Implant Litigation

A High Court judge has ruled that seventeen late applicants will not be allowed to take part in the forthcoming PIP Breast Implant Litigation.

In 2012 the High Court endorsed a Group Litigation Order (GLO) against the Transform Medical Group and four other cosmetic surgery clinics to allow claimants to make compensation claims against the clinics at which they had undergone breast enhancement surgery with the subsequently recalled PIP breast implants.

The GLO was issued with the condition that all potential claimants register for the PIP breast implant litigation prior to April 2013 in order to find a quick resolution to their claims – the first hearing of the GLO is scheduled to take place at the High Court next month.

Coming up to April 2013, seventeen claims for faulty PIP breast implants were being handled by Tandem Law – a Manchester legal company specialising in Group Litigation Orders. Tandem Law went into liquidation as the cut-off time approached when the company´s overseas investors withdrew their support. Tandem Law was subsequently acquired by AHV Legal.

During the changeover period the claims of the seventeen victims of faulty breast implants were overlooked and the deadline missed. The applications to join the PIP breast implant litigation were only made in February 2014, and the defendants in the case objected to the late registrations.

The question of whether the late applicants should be allowed to join the PIP breast implant litigation went to the High Court, where Mrs Justice Thirwall DBE heard arguments from both sides.

Barristers on behalf of the cosmetic surgery clinics argued that the seventeen claimants should not be allowed to join the PIP breast implant litigation based on the recommendations made in the Jackson Report – the 2014 review of civil litigation, in which Lord Jackson criticised delays and non-compliance with GLOs. The clinics´ barristers provided examples of several recent cases in which Lord Jackson´s recommendations had been applied to support their argument.

Barristers on behalf of the late applicants argued that, should the seventeen claimants be disqualified from participating in the forthcoming PIP breast implant litigation, it might compromise their prospects of recovering compensation for the faulty PIP breast implants. They put forward the scenario that, should the PIP GLO find in favour of the existing claimants, there may not be funds remaining to compensate the seventeen late applicants.

Mrs Justice Thirwall DBE gave the opinion that this argument was speculative, and said that if there were no funds remaining after the GLO to pay compensation, the seventeen clients of AVH Legal would have reasonable cause to sue the law firm. The judge also dismissed an argument that the inclusion of the late applicants would not prejudice the defendants in the GLO – commenting that the clinics are entitled to have certainty in the scope of the claims against them.

The judge allowed the objection by the cosmetic surgery clinics to stand, on the basis of Lord Jackson´s recommendations, and ruled out the late applicants´ inclusion in the PIP breast implant litigation.