VICTIMS of silicon gel breast implants are having difficulty serving breach of contract and damages claims on a foreign-based parent company of the Irish clinic that carried out the surgery, a court heard today.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane was told in the Circuit Civil Court that a proposed defendant, Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Limited, may be only an Irish registered branch of the company which allegedly had its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands.
Barrister Robert McGarr, counsel for breast implant victim and mother of three, Susan Newman, Duffsland, Commons Road, Navan, Co Meath, asked the court to renew two Civil Bills and grant leave to serve the proceedings outside the jurisdiction in relation to the British Virgin Islands.
He said Ms Newman, who had undergone her operation on February 22, 2006, was seeking to sue for breach of contract and also for personal injuries. Proceedings had been issued in February last year just within the deadline for doing so.
There had been a change of solicitors representing Ms Newman and if new proceedings were issued they could be statute barred. His client was seeking to renew both civil bills which had not yet been served on the British Virgin Islands company.
Mr McGarr said there had been a confusing aspect to the case. When proceedings first issued there had been an assumption Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Limited was an Irish company.
A Companies Office search had revealed it was registered as a branch of an international company and not originally incorporated in Ireland. It had apparently been registered in Ireland only for the purpose of having a branch address.
Mr McGarr said a second defendant, The Harley Medical Centre Limited has an address at 11 Queen Ann Street, London, and service on this company was covered by the Brussels EC legislation.
Sarah Reid, counsel for fellow victim Samantha Gibbs, of Hillside, Ballintubber, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, asked the court for judgment in default of appearance against the Harley Medical Group (Ireland) Limited, 5 Herbert Place, Dublin 2.
She said the British Virgin Islands company had signed for a preliminary letter of claim and should have entered a conditional appearance.
Judge Linnane said that before she could grant leave to serve proceedings outside the jurisdiction she had to take into account if the company based in the British Virgin Islands had received a preliminary letter of claim on behalf of Ms Newman notifying it at an early stage of an intention to proceed.
The judge said she also had to be satisfied the company had been served with a notice of motion for judgment against it. She could not grant leave to serve a company at such a global address as British Virgin Islands and directed that Ms Newman’s former solicitors provide evidence of any letter of claim it may have issued.
Judge Linnane adjourned the applications until April 18 for further information. She said both matters should travel together and suggested it would be beneficial to both parties to liase with each other and to exchange information.