The High Court recently ordered the liquidation of the Harley Medical Group, which had operated in Ireland since 1999. The company, which owed over 450,000 euros, requested liquidation and the appointment of a liquidator because it was insolvent and could not repay its debt. Justice Laffoy agreed that the company was insolvent and announced Stephen Tennant as the official liquidator.
The company faced a lawsuit initiated by over 150 Irish women who claimed that they received defective breast implants made by the French company Poly Implant Prothese. These implants were used in most of the 1,500 implant procedures conducted by this clinic. Occasionally they break and cause irritated and swollen tissue that needs to be treated. Damaged implants have to be removed surgically, which is costly and somewhat risky. Furthermore, Poly Implant Prothese implants can release harmful silicone into the patient’s body. Therefore, Poly Implant Prothese also faces litigation in many countries related to a possible link between their products and tumor growth. Extensive research has been done to evaluate the risks of these implants, and the lawsuits remain ongoing. The cosmetic surgery field is not regulated in Ireland, making cheap but risky procedures appealing to some groups.
Harley Medical Group did not have insurance that covered the use of the industrial grade silicone used in the implants at issue. They had prepared for a rupture rate of about 3 percent, but the actual rate was about 8 percent. This caused their costs to increase to much higher levels than the company had predicted. No suitable alternative to dissolving the group existed.
The women who received Poly Implant Prothese breast implants from Harley Medical Group opposed the order to dissolve the clinic. Their lawyer argued that the court did not have enough information to determine if Harley Medical Group was insolvent. They also claimed that the case should not be decided in Ireland at all. They believed that the UK was a more suitable location for this decision because a related company, Harley Medical Centre Ltd, is located there. Additionally, the company is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
However, the clinic argued that it only operated and paid taxes in Ireland. Justice Laffoy agreed with Harley Medical Group that business and management occurred in Ireland and that therefore it was the suitable jurisdiction. She dismissed the proposed link between Harley Medical Group and Harley Medical Centre Ltd because they are two distinct legal entities.