In the UK and Ireland, The Harley Medical Centre Ltd., trading as The Harley Medical Group, was a major seller and distributor of the defective PIP breast implants. The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd is currently before the Irish courts, looking to be put into liquidation. McGarr Solicitors is the only solicitors’ firm that has attended court for Irish PIP victims and argued for their clients’ interests in this application.
- The PIP criminal trial is currently at hearing in France.
- McGarr solicitors act for a number of women victims of the PIP scandal. The scandal was the distribution and sale of sub-standard silicone breast implants. This post is a partial explanation of the current position of Irish PIP victims and related Irish legal activities.
The Harley Liquidation
- The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. went into administration and then liquidation (and changed its name). This has all happened in the UK under the insolvency law of that jurisdiction.
- The administrator promptly sold the business to, it appears, the shareholders of The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. and they have continued the business in the same premises using a new company. That company is continuing the use of the trade name The Harley Medical Group. Its directors are the defunct directors of The Harley Medical Centre Ltd.
- There was an exception to the plan; the exception was in Dublin. The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. had a clinic at 5 Herbert Place in Dublin 2. We know this because it said so on its website. There was and is a plaque, effectively saying so, attached to the wall outside 5 Herbert Place. In addition, the contracts signed by Irish Harley customers stated that the contract was with The Harley Medical Centre Ltd.
- It now appears that the leasehold interest in 5 Herbert Place Dublin 2 was held by another company, The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. Despite its name, this company was formed and registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The Harley Medical Group Dublin Liquidation
- Now, this company also wishes to be liquidated. It had directors in common with The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. In other words, the two managements were the same.
- It has chosen to apply for liquidation in Ireland, in the Irish High Court. In doing so it has claimed, in sworn testimony, that it is the entity that carried on the medical business conducted at 5 Herbert St. Dublin 2.
- This is confusing. It also creates uncertainty; uncertainty as to the identity of the corporate body answerable to Irish Harley PIP victims.
- Because The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. made this claim to the High Court, the court directed that McGarr Solicitors (and other firms also) be put on notice of the petition to wind up The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. McGarr Solicitors act for a number of Irish Harley PIP victims.
The Opposition to the Harley Dublin Liquidation
- McGarr Solicitors have opposed the making of a winding up order for The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd.
- In the UK, persons such as Harley PIP victims may, under UK law, apply to enforce their claims against any relevant insurance company carrying the Harley risk. This is not the case in Ireland.
- So, if there is insurance cover for claims such as the PIP claims, and if each victim can prove damage and loss, it would be important to be able to make a claim against that insurer of Harley.
- But which Harley would be the insured Harley? This question illustrates the damaging effect of the claim of The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. Its claim that it is the company that sold and fitted defective breast implants to Irish women at least potentially undermines the right of those women to claim against the UK insurer of The Harley Medical Centre Ltd.
- As it happens, the claimed, indeed assumed, “right” of The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. to be wound up by the Irish courts is not obvious. It is not obvious because Irish law includes EU law and under the relevant EU law the available evidence shows that the place where The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. might more properly be liquidated is the UK and not Ireland.
- The available evidence shows, for instance, that the headed notepaper of The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. recited that it had nineteen clinics, eighteen of which were in the UK. Oddly, they appear to be the same clinics that The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. had.
- As it further happened, the lawyers for The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd., in submitting the petition to wind up The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. denied that the EU insolvency regulation applied to The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. and its petition. McGarr Solicitors disagree. We say the Regulation applies. We say that the available evidence establishes where the “centre of main interests” (“COMI”) for The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. is, and its COMI is in the UK. Consequently, we say, the Irish high court does not have jurisdiction to wind up The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. in “main proceedings”. That privilege lies with the UK courts. (Consequently, Irish PIP victims would then have the benefit of UK law and would be able to press any necessary claims against the insurance companies of The Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Ltd. as well as the claims against the insurers of The Harley Medical Centre Ltd.).
- These are the questions now being decided by the Irish High court. Judgment is expected in about a week.
- Meanwhile, we are continuing our investigations of the insurance cover bought by The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. We are doing this through correspondence with the liquidator of The Harley Medical Centre Ltd. Currently we believe that company was insured against claims such as those of Irish PIP victims. We have identified what we believe is the policy and the insurer that carried that risk