British women affected by the PIP breast implant scandal have welcomed the ruling of a French court that around 2,700 victims are entitled to compensation.
An appeal court said German company TUV Rheinland committed negligence by certifying the implants as safe.
Thursday’s ruling, which might not be final and could go to a higher court, was announced by France-based association PIPA, which represents victims.
The scandal emerged in 2010 after doctors noticed abnormally high rupture rates in women with implants produced by French company Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP.
The firm’s implants were used in hundreds of thousands of women worldwide.
Nicola Mason, one the women affected by the case, said the decision was “great news”.
Speaking to BBC News on Thursday, Ms Mason, who has been left with a lump of silicone under her arm after her implant ruptured, added: “We have been waiting a long time for this.
“Whilst it will never compensate us for the potential long-term health issues that we have, at least it might go some way to paying us back the money we have had to pay out to repair the damage they have left us with.”
Gail Coxon, another woman involved in the case, told the BBC she felt a “huge sense of relief” after hearing of the court’s decision.
Ms Coxon added: “I can’t explain it, I have burst into tears I don’t know how many times this morning.
“It’s just a huge sense of relief, you finally feel that we have been listened to and that’s the biggest thing.”
Ms Coxon said she had her implants in 2006 and started to feel unwell about six months later.
She said she started to feel tired and to get aches and pains, but it then developed to the point were she collapsed a few times and had severe nosebleeds and headaches.
When she had the implants removed in 2012 the symptoms began to clear up and she gradually began to feel “more and more like my old self”.
She added: “I had gone from being bright and vibrant and bubbly and full of energy to feeling like I was an old woman, and it was just horrendous and got progressively worse over the years until I had them removed.
“I honestly thought I was going to die at the time, it was really terrifying to go through.”
Olivier Aumaitre, the lawyer representing the 2,700 women who brought the case, said at a news conference it was “clearly a historical day for PIP breast implant victims all over the world and for women’s rights”.
PIPA said the amount of compensation is still to be determined.
Mr Aumaitre hopes the ruling will have implications for the many other victims, although he was “not aware of other compensation wins in other countries”.
Solicitor Parm Sahota, who represents hundreds of women in the PIP scandal for law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “The decision handed down by the Court of Appeal in Paris is a positive step for our clients whose case is currently being heard in the Court of Nanterre in France.
“Whilst we’re pleased with this recent ruling, it remains to be seen if TUV will appeal this decision and how it will affect our case.
“TUV have long maintained a denial of liability in all of the class actions that have been brought against them by hundreds of women, have refused mediation, and we anticipate they will continue to look to exhaust all avenues open to them within the French court process.
“We are disappointed that their stance has caused such extensive delay but will continue to fight on.”
PIP was liquidated in 2010 and its founder Jean-Claude Mas was later given a four-year prison sentence. He died in 2019.
The implants were filled with cheap, industrial-grade silicone which was not suitable for use in humans.
TUV defence lawyer Cecile Derycke has suggested the firm was targeted as a scapegoat because it was solvent.
Another TUV lawyer, Christelle Coslin, told the Associated Press: “TUV Rheinland denies all responsibility. The missing link here is the actual liable party.”