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June update on PIP litigation

Good afternoon,

We all are suffering with this dreadful weather at present and I had hoped to bring some news to lighten your days but sadly we are still no further forward with regard to the litigation process. I am sure you are all aware of the time that this will take but I just wanted to confirm in case you thought that either there had been a development that you had missed or there was something further that you had to do.

If you are new to our list of claimants I welcome you and hope that this update will assist you with information on how these claims are proceeding through the Court.

Fact finding

Harris Fowler is continuing to work and prepare cases on behalf of the victims of the PIP implants.  The Court considered the application to have the matters dealt with as a Group in March 2012 and it was very much a preliminary hearing for further information to be provided at a later date.

Since that time we have been actively gathering evidence.

What we have found surprising is the vast number of potential Defendants. We were certainly under the impression at the outset that the number of Claimants is in the thousands but that the clinics and surgeons would be limited to a core of providers of the surgery. At present the number of potential defendants is in excess of 70 so this further reinforces the complexity of the litigation process.

We consider however that of the 70 defendants there will be a much smaller group once we have established connecting relationships between the various hospitals and have established the correct name of the surgeons.  Very many victims have not kept or had paperwork and are relying on their memories for the name of the surgeon and this has caused some difficulty that we are working through.  If you have kept old documents and not yet forwarded these to us please do so as soon as you are able.

You may notice in the paperwork reference to a variety of different trading names for the surgeon and clinic and this is because of the use by many of the defendants of company registration to protect them from being held personally liable. Also the clinic seemed to have changed hands once or twice or more over the past decade so that is a further issue to consider.

There is one particular surgeon who has several companies and we are trying to narrow these down and find the consistent element in the companies so that we can pursue the correct defendant.

The same complexity arises with confirmation of the insurers for the defendant. An example would be a clinic who had an insurance policy for the years 2000 – 2003 and then changed in 2003 and then again in 2008. This means that we have to track the appropriate insurer for the time when the injury was caused.  Also insures have the means to avoid claims if the insured has not followed the terms and conditions of insurance.

Of particular importance now are the serial numbers for the implants.The reason is that with this information our forensic scientific experts will be able to give a view on the relationship these have to the use of the industrial grade silicone.  For some women the number will not be known until the implant is removed but if you have this and not supplied the serial number yet please let us know.

Group litigation order

The Register of Claimants is not yet open but it is anticipated that this will be open at sometime in July.  We are trying to work on building an on-line notification system to speed up the process but we are dependent on other firms being able to work with this media.

To join the Register at present the Court has asked that each case is to be issued and proceedings served on the proposed defendant(s).  To issue proceedings we have to send the letter of claim and allow the protocol period of 12 weeks to lapse as this will give the defendants the opportunity to settle with out incurring the legal costs that extended litigation will accumulate. We are unable to communicate with the potential defendants until we source a competitive insurance premium for your legal expenses so that you are not liable for the defendant’s costs if your claim is unsuccessful.  We are speaking with a number of insurers to find the best policy for you and let you have our recommendations for the most suitable insurance policy shortly.   Once this is put in place the letter of claim can sent.

At present there is no cut-off date for registering cases.

In summary

I have spoken with many of you regarding what you can do to be more involved. My advice is to keep the pressure on the clinics and surgeons for all of you who have not had medical treatment and have had demands by the clinics and surgeons to pay for further treatment. Ensure that if you do phone anyone that you follow this up with a letter so that you have a document to prove the conversation took place.

In addition to dealing with the defendants please also consider approaching your local MP to complain about the treatment you have had and to query why it is that women in Wales are given removal and replacement options but in England all that is provided on the NHS is surgery for removal.  A letter to your MP can be incredibly helpful because they will look into your complaint and try their best to assist you.

Thank you again for making contact and I will update you as soon as I have more to report. I look forward to hearing from everyone in the meantime with copies of any documents relating to the implants and most particularly the serial numbers of the implants.