Menu

Surrogacy Dispute

A dispute involving a surrogate born child raises complex legal issues under fertility and family law in the UK. They can be even more challenging when they involve a straight surrogate, a surrogate who was a family member or close personal friend or an international element or conflict of law. Legal difficulties and disputes can encompass a wide range of issues, including:

  • Level of payments to a surrogate.
  • A surrogate’s refusal to hand over the child to the intended parent/s.
  • A surrogate’s refusal or failure to consent to a parental order.
  • A surrogate’s wish for continued involvement in the child’s life.
  • Legal status of an intended parent or step-parent for a surrogate born child.
  • Legal status and identity of a surrogate born child.
  • Arrangements for the care and upbringing of a surrogate born child.
  • A claim for damages for surrogacy following medical negligence.

Need a surrogacy lawyer?

Our preeminent specialist surrogacy lawyer expertise is tailored to your personal situation, needs and wishes. We are able to deliver innovative legal advice and solutions because we operate at the forefront of rapidly evolving surrogacy law, policy and practice in the UK. We provide expert surrogacy law advice, assistance and legal representation concerning domestic UK surrogacy and international surrogacy arrangements.

Our expert surrogacy lawyer, Louisa Ghevaert, is the author of the specialist surrogacy law chapter in the ‘go-to’ UK legal practitioner textbook “The International Family Law Practice” (Sixth Edition 2021, Family Law) used by judges, barristers, lawyers and academics.

Since 2008, Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with many landmark and well known UK and international surrogacy law cases. She has a proven track record in changing and improving surrogacy law, policy and practice and wider fertility law in the UK to help build and protect much-wanted families.

In 2008, Louisa Ghevaert successfully secured parental orders for British intended parents in the first UK case for overseas surrogacy in the Ukraine, Re X and Y (Foreign Surrogacy) EWHC 3030 (Fam).

In 2009, Louisa Ghevaert successfully helped a British couple save their frozen embryos from destruction and won a last minute change to embryo storage law in the UK for surrogate pregnancies.

In 2010, Louisa Ghevaert successfully obtained a parental order for British intended parents who conceived a child with a US surrogate in Illinois in Re L (a minor) [2010] EWHC 3146 (Fam). This legal ruling set a precedent that the welfare of the surrogate born child is decisive over the public policy restrictions around commercial surrogacy in the UK except in the clearest cases of abuse of public policy.

In 2011, Louisa Ghevaert successfully obtained a parental order for British parents whose surrogate born child was born stateless and parentless in the Ukraine and which warned of the risks of international surrogacy in the absence of specialist legal advice, In Re IJ (a Child) [2011] EWHC 921.

In 2013, Louisa Ghevaert successfully obtained a parental order for British intended parents who had a surrogate born child through a Californian (USA) commercial surrogacy arrangement. This case redefined the English Court’s approach to the authorisation of commercial payments given the UK public policy restriction around commercial surrogacy.

In 2014, Louisa Ghevaert represented the intended biological father in a UK straight surrogacy dispute with his wife (who was neither a genetic nor a birth mother) and the surrogate (a close friend) about a surrogate born child’s upbringing and parentage in JP v LP & Ors [2014] EWHC 595 (Fam). The legal ruling warned of the risks of informal privately arranged surrogacy agreements and established a legal pathway for cases where criteria for a parental order cannot be met following marital breakdown and divorce.

From 2014 -18, Louisa Ghevaert was an expert member of the Surrogacy UK Working Party Group for Law Reform and a contributor to its seminal report on surrogacy and law reform in 2015. This milestone report informed parliamentary debate on surrogacy law reform and policy in The House of Lords in 2016 and subsequent work to reform surrogacy law in the UK.

In 2017, Louisa Ghevaert’s expert evidence on surrogacy law resulted in a legal first when the High Court awarded a woman costs of £74,000 for UK altruistic surrogacy following medical negligence in XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWHC 2318 (QB).

In 2018, Louisa Ghevaert successfully represented an intended mother in an international surrogacy and blended family law dispute concerning 2 surrogate born children (Indian surrogacy). This case marks a legal first in the legal status, rights and treatment of blended families in the UK following surrogacy, divorce, re-marriage, serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse, AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam).

Through 2018, 2019 and 2020, Louisa Ghevaert’s expert surrogacy, donor conception and fertility treatment law evidence in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court resulted in further legal rulings for a woman left infertile following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies, enabling for the first time recovery of damages of approximately £558,000 for commercial surrogacy, donor conception and fertility treatment in the US, XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2018] EWCA Civ 2832 and Whittington Hospital NHS Trust v XX [2020] UKSC 14.

Through 2021 and 2022, Louisa Ghevaert successfully represented male intended parents and obtained parental orders for 3 surrogate born children following complex international conflicts of law between the US (California & Oregon), Denmark and the UK which created serious difficulties concerning the children’s legal parentage, citizenship and residence arrangements in Re X,Y and Z (Children: Parental Orders: Time Limit) [2022] EWHC 198 (Fam).

You can find more information and links to these cases below.

To discuss your case and how we can help please contact us.

 enquiries@louisaghevaertassociates.co.uk

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

Bespoke Legal Services

We provide expert tailored legal advice and representation in relation to a dispute with a surrogate concerning a child and other orders in the English Family Court including:

Leading Cases

Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with numerous complex assisted reproduction and surrogacy disputes, including:

Re X,Y and Z (Children: Parental Orders: Time Limit) [2022] EWHC 198 (Fam)an important legal ruling where the English High Court stepped in and granted parental orders for 3 surrogate born children following complex international conflicts of law between the US (California & Oregon), Denmark and the UK, extending the six-month statutory deadline for issue post birth and carefully navigating complex legal issues associated with the collapse of a US surrogacy agency, a pending criminal charge of assault against one of the intended parents and serious legal difficulties in Denmark where Danish authorities threatened to deport the children.

Whittington Hospital NHS Trust v XX [2020] UKSC 14, a landmark ruling where the UK Supreme Court by a majority of 3:2 dismissed the defendant hospital’s appeal. This enabled the recovery of damages for commercial surrogacy, donor conception and fertility treatment in the US for a woman rendered infertile and unable to carry a pregnancy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. Louisa Ghevaert gave expert evidence in the case, which featured in The Guardian (1 April 2020) and in BioNews (6 April 2020).

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2018] EWCA Civ 2832, where for the first time the Court of Appeal awarded damages for the costs of fertility treatment, donor eggs and commercial surrogacy in California for a woman rendered infertile and unable to carry a pregnancy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. Louisa Ghevaert gave expert evidence in the case, which featured in The Telegraph 19 December 2018 and The Times, The Telegraph, The Mail Online and The Mirror on 27 January 2019.

AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam), representing an intended mother in international contested assisted reproduction and modern family law proceedings in the High Court concerning 2 surrogate born children (Indian surrogacy). This case marks a legal first in the treatment of blended families in the UK following assisted reproduction, divorce, re-marriage, serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse as well as the legal status and identity of two surrogate born children, their biological, intended and social parents and arrangements for the children’s care and upbringing.

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWHC 2318 (QB), being the first legal case in the UK in which the High Court awarded damages to a woman for altruistic UK surrogacy and fertility treatment following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. This case marks the cross-section of fertility, family and medical negligence law. It highlights the importance of fertility, surrogacy and family law aspects when medical negligence renders a woman infertile and unable to carry a pregnancy. Louisa Ghevaert gave expert evidence in this case.

In JP v LP & Ors [2014] EWHC 595 (Fam), acting for the intended biological father in a high profile complex UK straight surrogacy dispute with his wife (neither a genetic nor a birth mother) following marriage breakdown and divorce and the the surrogate (a close friend). This case established for the first time a legal framework for cases where the legal criteria for a parental order cannot be met, including wardship, and featured in The Telegraph, BBC News and Mail Online (6 March 2014).

In Re C [2013] EWHC 2408 (Fam), obtaining a parental order for intended parents who conceived a child through a Californian (USA) commercial surrogacy arrangement. This case redefines the English Court’s approach to the authorisation of commercial payments in view of the UK public policy restriction against commercial surrogacy.

In Re IJ (a Child) [2011] EWHC 921, obtaining a parental order for British parents whose surrogate born child was born stateless and parentless in Ukraine. The case highlights the legal difficulties associated with foreign surrogacy and the importance of expert legal advice.

In Re L (a minor) [2010] EWHC 3146 (Fam), obtaining a parental order for British parents who conceived a child with a US surrogate mother (state of Illinois). The case marks a legal watershed ruling that the welfare of the child is decisive over the public policy ban on commercial surrogacy in the UK except in the clearest cases of abuse of public policy and featured in The Telegraph (8 December 2010).

In Re X and Y (foreign surrogacy) [2008] EWHC 3030 (Fam), being the first case in UK legal history to test the law for British parents conceiving through an international commercial surrogacy arrangement in Ukraine and which involved complex and groundbreaking legal issues, featured in BioNews (January 2009).

Click here to read more about our well known cases.

News and Commentary

Click here to read more about our media and commentary work in relation to family and fertility law, policy and practice.

In the News

Father and toddler

Twitter updates

Follow Louisa on Twitter for latest industry updates

Read More

Our latest news

Read our news on fertility & modern family law

Read More

Our blog

Louisa discusses her opinion on different topics

Read More