Much still to do, says litigation investor after breast implant case progress

Jones: Paris ruling a significant breakthrough

A litigation investment company bringing High Court proceedings over PIP breast implants has welcomed a liability decision in France but said there is “still much more work to be done” on its claim in the UK.

The Paris Court of Appeal has ruled that German company TUV Rheinland was negligent in awarding CE safety certification to French business Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), which made faulty breast implants filled with industrial-grade silicone not approved for human use.

More than 300,000 women received the implants over a decade and the ruling allows tens of thousands of women to claim compensation.

There have been various actions pursued in the UK over the last decade, with one high-profile case spinning off into professional negligence proceedings as well.

Separately, Henderson & Jones – which specialises in buying claims from insolvent companies and individuals – is bringing proceedings valued at £35m against Hospital Medical Group (HMG), which was one of the UK’s largest providers of PIP breast implants, Birmingham law firm The Wilkes Partnership and Barclays Bank.

HMG directors are accused of moving company assets out of the reach of PIP claimants back in 2012 with the assistance of its bank and solicitors. They reject the allegations. HMG went into voluntary liquidation in 2016.

Henderson & Jones bought the claim from HMG’s liquidator in 2018. Director Gwilym Jones described the Paris decision as “a significant breakthrough”.

“[It] is an important first step, but there is much more work to be done. In the UK alone, it is estimated that close to 50,000 women have suffered as a result of PIP implants. [We] are continuing to fight for compensation for the patients of Hospital Medical Group.”

Speaking to Legal Futures, Mr Jones – an accountant – explained that Henderson & Jones generally bought rather than funded cases, but it did fund on occasion.

Henderson: IPs becoming more comfortable selling cases

Fellow director Philip Henderson, a former City solicitor, they set up the business after seeing a lot of claims not pursued by insolvency practitioners because of lack of funds and time, the costs of keeping the insolvency open, and the risk that attached to them. Selling the claim was “a really good solution”.

The HMG claim is one of the larger cases it has – the firm does not have a lower limit on value – and Mr Henderson said it was an example of restructurings “where assets go one way, liabilities go another way and clients are left in the lurch”.

Henderson & Jones employs four other solicitors, as well as an Italian lawyer and a legal assistant currently studying the graduate diploma in law. Leading insolvency practitioner Ron Robinson, former president of representative body R3, chairs the board.

The pair said insolvency practitioners were becoming more comfortable with selling on cases. “It feels like a safer path,” said Mr Jones.

They have instructed Worcester-based Harrison Clark Rickerbys under a conditional fee agreement.

Henderson & Jones was this month also appointed by the High Court to represent customers of Football Index – the controversial gambling website that recently went into administration – over an application brought by the joint administrators for guidance as to the payment of the funds held in the Football Index Player Protection account.

A hearing on the “relevant date” for the purposes of distributing the money held on trust for customers is being held today.

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