SVS is an NGO that champions the cause of 4,000 women who say their breast implants have led to serious side effects. This claim was not necessarily accepted by the medical community as a whole. For years SVS has been trying to get the Ministry of Health to ban the use of implants until their side effects are clearly documented to enable women to make informed decisions about the procedure.
When the ministry refused to ban implants, SVS requested pro bono assistance from Stibbe. We felt a responsibility to help them because the precautionary principle lay at the centre of the discussion. This states that if something is suspected of causing harm to the public, the government should take protective measures to establish whether harm is being caused.
This principle, however, is relatively untested in practice, which means the way the Ministry handles the request of SVS could have a major impact on how it is invoked in future cases. Therefore, Stibbe began legal proceedings against the Ministry to seek clarification on the application of this principle.