Barclays faces £40m lawsuit over breast implant scandal
Barclays is facing a £40m High Court lawsuit over claims it dishonestly transferred assets, owned by one of Britain’s largest cosmetic surgery providers, to prevent women who were given dangerous breast implants from receiving compensation.
The High Court lawsuit, which is scheduled to be heard this October, claims Barclays’ Business Support Unit helped restructure Hospital Medical Group (HMG) to ensure it avoided paying compensation to thousands of women, court documents seen by City A.M. show.
The lawsuit against Barclays, one of its former staff, two former HMG directors, and the Wilkes Partnership – the law firm which advised on the restructuring process – seeks to win £35m in compensation plus ten years’ worth of interest, for thousands of women given the faulty breast implants by HMG.
The claim is also seeking to force Barclays to disclose the legal advice it received on restructuring private healthcare companies facing PIP claims, following the bank’s refusal to put forward the information, citing privilege.
Barclays declined to comment. The Wilkes Partnership and HMG have been approached by City A.M. for comment.
First established in 1993, HMG was a leading provider of breast implants manufactured by French firm Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), before its silicone gel implants were withdrawn from the market in 2010 following revelations the manufacturer had been using sub-medical grade silicone.
PIP’s implants are up to six times more likely to rupture or leak than medical grade implants, according to an NHS review. It is estimated around 47,000 British women had PIP’s implants fitted before the dangers were revealed.
The case centres around the restructuring of HMG in 2012, which saw the private healthcare company transfer nearly all of its assets – including the £15m Dolan Park hospital in Birmingham – to three other companies, all controlled by HMG’s holding company. The process left HMG itself liable for any PIP claims. HMG later entered into a voluntary liquidation in 2016.
Gwilym Jones, director of Henderson & Jones, the litigation funder which purchased the claim from HMG’s liquidators, said: “Henderson & Jones launched these proceedings with the aim of returning money to the creditors of the Hospital Medical Group.”
“Hundreds of women who were victims of the PIP scandal were left with no compensation, despite obtaining a judgment, because all of the company’s assets had been dissipated in what we claim was an illegal restructure designed to put assets beyond the reach of the Company’s creditors.”
“The claim is also brought against the company’s solicitors (the Wilkes Partnership LLP) and Barclays Bank, on the basis that they dishonestly assisted the illegal restructure. In our view, transactions of this nature are both unlawful and morally reprehensible. Those involved should be held to account.”