What is a GLO?
A Group Litigation Order is made by the Court in situations where there are a large number of claimants making similar claims against an identified group of defendants.
A series of test cases incorporating the main contractual issue will be heard so that the Court can make a single ruling on whether the defendants have breached their contract to the claimants. Once we have received the final Order from the High Court in London then we will start to register your claim.
What is the purpose of a GLO?
It avoids a situation in which a series of similar cases are being heard simultaneously at different courts up and down the country and where the legal issues to be decided are largely the same.
What are the legal issues involved?
There are really two central issues here. The first is the question of whether or not the clinics are liable for using PIP implants. The Court will have to decide if the implants were fitted under a contract within the meaning of the sale of goods legislation. Our argument is that PIP implants are not of the satisfactory quality or fitness for purpose described in the legislation, therefore there has been a clear breach of contract because you were supplied with a defective medical product by the clinic.
Furthermore, there is historical evidence which suggests that questions about the safety of PIP silicone implants were raised as early as 2001. Arguably the clinics should have been aware of the risks and not used PIP implants.
The fact that evidence has emerged which confirms that non-medical grade silicone was used to fill PIP implants means that the argument for breach of contract is a strong one.
It is likely that the defendants will try to rely on the fact that the implants were CE marked (i.e. European Conformity). They will probably argue that a product with a CE mark is automatically a satisfactory product. They may also argue that even if the gel is not of a medical standard that there is no evidence that it is harmful, or anymore harmful than medical grade silicone gel.
If the court determines that the implant was not of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose then the defendants will be liable to the claimants. The next question will be as to whether the defendants will have the funds or insurance to pay compensation, but this is a separate matter and hence why we are investigating credit card claims wherever possible.
Effect of the GLO
Whilst the GLO is on-going your claim will be stayed. This means that once your claim has been registered, we must then wait for the outcome in the lead case. If the defendants lose, we will then be in a position to progress your claim.
What happens if the Clinics are found to be liable?
It is likely that cases will then proceed according to value. The value will vary depending on which category you fall into – for example if you have a rupture, a gel bleed, no rupture and so on.
If you are making a claim against a surgeon rather than a clinic then we will proceed in the normal way by writing a letter of claim and registering you in the same way at the appropriate time. It has been decided that claims against surgeons will be dealt with separately but by the same managing judge who is dealing with the GLO. This is due to the number of individual surgeons potentially involved. Once we know the outcome of the GLO we will then proceed separately against the surgeons.
The reason we ask you to keep your implants where possible is because the defendants may wish each individual to prove that their particular implants contain or contained non-medical grade silicone or were unfit/unsatisfactory. However, we would argue that where there is the possibility that the implants have come from a batch containing non-medical grade silicone, you are entitled to assume that they are defective and they should be removed and replaced at the cost of the clinic.
The long-term effects of having been fitted with PIP implants that may or may not have ruptured will be subject to investigation over a period of time. At the moment there is little or no evidence to suggest there are associated long-term health risks, but it may be that more evidence will emerge in time. We do know that the gel used is an irritant and that it tends to migrates within the body, unlike other medical-grade silicone. We are therefore keeping a watching brief on this issue
The GLO is a positive step but we may not know the outcome for sometime. We will endeavour to keep you updated as and when we receive more information.
If you have not already signed and returned your paperwork, please do so now as we anticipate the GLO Order will be finalised soon and we will then be pressing on and registering your claims. Please contact Samantha Robson on 01392 423000 if you have any queries, or would like to start a PIP claim.