Victims of PIP breast implants scandal now in line for payout after ruling by a French court
Thousands of women from Northern Ireland given faulty French silicon implants could be in line for a compensation payout from the French courts.
Around 3,000 local women are believed to have had the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) enhancement surgery either in the UK or abroad.
A scandal emerged in 2010 after it was discovered industrial-grade silicon was used in the implants. A UK report in June 2012 found they had double the rupture rate of other implants.
A new class action case for damages has been launched, with women having until next March to apply for compensation.
French lawyer Olivier Aumaitre, who is working with Stanton Fisher Medical law group, visited Belfast yesterday as he prepared to spearhead the fresh legal challenge on behalf of thousands of women across Europe.
Mr Aumaitre is appealing for any woman affected to come forward with their case.
"The decisions of the French court and the huge number of claimants now coming forward allow hope for many victims worldwide to achieve compensation for their pain, suffering and any further rectification surgery necessary," he said.
Mr Aumaitre made a legal breakthrough in France when he secured an interim order of €3,000 per woman after taking a case against the German company TUV Rheinland and its French subsidiary, which certified the product.
Lisa Morrison (38) from Belfast is taking a case after her implants ruptured four years after surgery.
"I would like some justice for what I have gone through," she said. "I know I'm not alone, I know there are thousands of women around the world who have gone through this."
Ms Morrison, who paid privately for the surgery in 2008, travelled to Birmingham for the procedure.
"I was happy at the time with the implants," she said. "But when it all came out they sent me a letter stating they would take them out but not replace them if they hadn't ruptured." However, in 2012 they did.
"I was experiencing a lot of pain.
It was very stressful for me as I was referred for an MRI scan and I was put on a waiting list for the scan, which took months. It was a whole waiting game."
Solicitor Steven Hulme from Stanton Fisher said thousands of claims in the UK had already been processed, but this is just the start.
"Anyone living in Northern Ireland who has been affected should consider making a claim now," he said.
"The procedure is simple and we are pursuing an advance interim payment of up to £2,500 for each of our clients prior to their final compensation award being decided by the court.
"Women who have had PIP implants simply need to prove they had the surgery undertaken."
An estimated 300,000 women in 65 countries were caught up in the worldwide health scare which broke in 2010. The defective PIP breast implants were filled with substandard silicone gel, which caused many to rupture - in some cases leading to inflammation and scar tissue. A German firm responsible for granting European safety certificates for the implants has been ordered by a French court to pay compensation to hundreds of women. Local lawyers from the Stanton Fisher Group have been working on the action with French lawyer Olivier Aumaitre, who launched a successful case against German certification giant TUV.