High Court Rules On Late Applications For PIP Implant Group Action

Ruling Against New Applicants


A High Court ruling last week has refused to allow a number of people seeking to make a claim regarding complications with PIP breast implants to join a group claim, where legal experts are warning that the issue highlights the need to use specialist lawyers in such cases.

Candis Holloway & Others v Transform Medical Group (CS) Ltd & Others [2014] related to 17 claimants who were looking to join a group litigation related to the implants – which have been the focus of a high-profile scandal in recent years – around 12 months after the cut-off date for adding cases to the Register of the GLO. Complications arose when the law firm representing the applicants went into administration, with staff redundancies, meaning the workforce handling the cases was also reduced.

Applications to join the Register late were made by AVH Legal, which acquired the law firm, Tandem Law, in February 2014, but at that time, no protective application to extend the time for joining claims to the existing group action was made.

While applicants argued that they would be prejudiced if they were not entitled to join the Register, the defendant, Transform, argued this was in fact an application for relief from sanctions and the principles of the Court of Appeal in Mitchell v News Group Papers Ltd [2013] should apply. That case states litigation needs to be conducted efficiently and at proportionate cost which requires the strict application of court rules, practice directions and orders.

Ruling on the case, Mrs Justice Thirlwall DBE, dismissed the applicants’ case stating that although they might suffer a loss, they would have a claim against their solicitors.

She added that the law firm in question had failed to get the claims joined to the group action before the cut-off date, failed to make an application for an extension to the cut-off date and also failed to make an application until 10 months after the passing of the date.

Our experienced personal injury claims team will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you have suffered as the result of PIP breast implants. View our PIP Breast Implants Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The way in which the court allows litigation to be pursued has changed drastically since April 2013 and the Mitchell case. This is a significant judgment as it is the first judgment where the Mitchell principles have been considered in a Group Litigation context.

"Group litigation is structurally and procedurally complex and this case illustrates the need for people who have suffered as a result of faulty devices such as PIP implants or metal-on-metal hip implants to always ensure they are represented by legal experts with experience in this area.

"Adhering to court deadlines is of vital importance in any case, but in the context of Group Litigation it is absolutely fundamental that solicitors have the resources and suitably qualified staff to ensure such deadlines are always met for all clients.

"This case has now clarified the complex procedural position of having a large number of claims being pursued within one set of proceedings and that it should not be assumed that exceptions will be made where individuals are not taking a lead role in Litigation.

"Mrs Justice Thirwall confirmed that the PIP Breast Implant Litigation has been managed tightly. This has only been possible through the experienced Group Litigation law firms leading the litigation, including our own specialist team at Irwin Mitchell.

"This case has highlighted, when dealing with such a large number of claimants and defendants, that the court considers it is a necessity to ensure court deadlines are complied with for the efficient management of Group Litigation – with the ultimate aim of ensuring victims can get the justice they deserve as quickly as possible."
Kevin Timms, Solicitor