A Hogan Lovells partner has defended the use of bailiffs to send legal letters directly to victims of a breast implant scandal.
In 2012 a UK report found that breast implants made by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) had a much higher rupture rate compared with other implants. Thousands of women in the UK and across the world were affected by the faulty implants with many suffering health problems and requiring further operations.
After a lengthy trial, in 2017 a French court found German certification body TUV Rheinland liable for failing to detect problems with the implants. TUV was ordered to make payouts totally around EUR60m to 20,000 claimants. For many of the claimants, the individual compensation of around EUR3,000 each was less than the initial cost of the surgery.
TUV, instructing Hogan Lovells, has now begun an appeal process which has resulted in letters being sent to the home addresses of the claimants warning them that they may have to pay back the compensation.
"TUV didn't have any other choice but to send the documentation" said Hogan Lovells lawyer Cécile Derycke, according to a report by the BBC. The Paris partner said that the lawyers for the claimants had not registered with the Court of Appeal in France, and so "after more than a year of trying to avoid this" TUV sent submissions directly to the claimants "through a bailiff". She argued that "the French lawyers for the claimants were duly informed that this would happen".
UPDATE: The PIPA team, lawyers for the claimants, has now released a statement on their website saying that they "strongly contest" that TUV was "forced to send bailiffs to patients who are suing them before French courts." They accuse TUV of a "deliberate strategy to frighten the victims and to cause disorder among them". The PIPA team says that the "strategy of intimidation will have no effect" as they will "carry on representing patients, in order to obtain complete compensation on their behalf".