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Assisted reproduction is complicated and it is not risk free.  It can create legal and practical issues, including difficulties or a dispute about:

Assisted reproduction is complex and multifaceted depending upon the method of conception, your relationship or marital status, the level of agreement between the parties involved and the jurisdiction where conception takes place. As such, it can create diverse unforeseen legal, emotional and wider issues when seeking to build a family through assisted reproduction. There are also many situations when assisted reproduction law disputes can arise and specialist legal advice and representation is required, including:

  • Expert assisted reproduction law advice to support a claim for damages following medical negligence.
  • To resolve difficulties or a dispute about importing or exporting eggs, sperm or embryos for fertility treatment (e.g. issues with consent, payments, storage term, application to the HFEA for a Special Direction).
  • To resolve difficulties or a dispute about procurement of eggs or sperm (e.g. following unexpected illness or injury).
  • To resolve difficulties about storage of eggs, sperm and embryos (e.g. terms of consent, varying/withdrawing consent, destruction).
  • To resolve difficulties or a dispute about use of eggs, sperm or embryos in fertility treatment (e.g. following relationship breakdown or change in personal situation).
  • To resolve a dispute about posthumous conception fertility treatment (e.g. absence or problems with HFEA Consent Forms).
  • To resolve a dispute about  legal parentage and parental responsibility for a child conceived through assisted reproduction (e.g. concerning a non-birth parent, a co-parent or surrogate).
  • To resolve a dispute with an ex-partner, parent, known donor, co-parent or surrogate about a child conceived through assisted reproduction.
  • To resolve a dispute or issues about the care, upbringing and legal status of a child born through assisted reproduction (e.g. a child arrangements order, a parental responsibility order, a specific issue order or a wardship order).

Need an assisted reproduction lawyer?

Our expert assisted reproduction lawyer services help you identify, understand and navigate the legal issues, risks, outcomes and disputes in the short, medium and longer term.  We provide in-depth and creative assisted reproduction law advice and solutions because we work at the forefront of rapidly developing assisted reproduction law, policy and practice in the UK. Our assisted reproduction law expertise spans the fertility, medical and family law sectors, enabling us to achieve the best outcome for you.

Our expert assisted reproduction lawyer Louisa Ghevaert is a co-author of medical reference book Reducing Risk in Fertility Treatment (First Edition, April 2015), contributing a specialist chapter entitled “Legal and Regulatory Risks to Patients: The UK Context” addressing legal and regulatory pitfalls faced by fertility patients.

Louisa Ghevaert, has since 2017, been a member of the International Egg Donation Stakeholder Advisory Group led by De Montfort University concerned with the future landscape of egg donation law and policy in the UK and Europe.

Since 2008, Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with many landmark and well known assisted reproduction dispute cases, including:

In 2009, Louisa Ghevaert successfully helped Melanie and Robert Gladwin save their frozen embryos from destruction and win a high profile last minute change to the law in relation to embryo storage.

In 2011, Louisa Ghevaert successfully helped Donna and Dean Marshall win a rare legal battle against their PCT for funding for IVF treatment on the NHS.

In 2012, Louisa Ghevaert represented Andrea Heywood, who aged 24, was denied NHS IVF funding by her local hospital authority for being too young.

In 2014, Louisa Ghevaert represented the intended biological father in a UK straight surrogacy dispute with his wife (who was neither the birth nor genetic mother) and the surrogate (a close friend) concerning a surrogate born child’s upbringing and parentage, In JP v LP & Ors [2014] EWHC 595 (Fam).

In 2016, Louisa Ghevaert obtained a declaration of parentage in the High Court for a woman in a same-sex relationship for a child conceived through fertility treatment and sperm donation at a UK fertility clinic licensed by the HFEA.  The HFEA Consent Form WP was missing from the clinic file which called the non-birth mother’s legal parentage into question, In the matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Case V) [2016] EWHC 2356 (Fam).

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).

In 2018, Louisa Ghevaert was part of the wife’s legal team in Y v A Healthcare NHS Trust & The HFEA & Z (by his litigation friend, The Official Solicitor) [2018] EWCOP 18, and obtained a first-of-its kind judgement from the Court of Protection to extract and store sperm from a fatally injured man for use in posthumous fertility treatment.

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 acted for male intended parents who conceived 3 children through egg donation, fertility treatment and surrogacy in an important legal ruling where the English High Court stepped in and granted parental orders due to complex international conflicts of law between the US (California & Oregon), Denmark and the UK which caused serious legal difficulties with the children’s legal parentage, citizenship and residence and resulted in the Danish authorities threatening to deport the children in Re X,Y and Z (Children: Parental Orders: Time Limit) [2022] EWHC 198 (Fam),

How we can help

Our expert assisted reproduction lawyer services include:

  • Legal packages.
  • Bespoke legal advice tailored to your situation, needs and wishes.
  • Preparation of legal documentation.
  • Legal support and representation in assisted reproduction law proceedings in court.

Package One

Assisted reproduction dispute: eggs, sperm, embryos – general legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice on fertility law in the UK in the event of assisted reproduction difficulties or a dispute. It can encompass a range of issues, including:

If you require legal assistance or wish to discuss an assisted reproduction dispute contact us

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

Leading cases

Expert assisted reproduction lawyer Louisa Ghevaert has dealt with numerous leading cases in the UK dealing with assisted reproduction 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 conceived through egg donation. fertility treatment and surrogacy due to 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 following a dispute about 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.

Y v A Healthcare NHS Trust & The HFEA & Z (by his litigation friend, The Official Solicitor) [2018] EWCOP 18, a first-of-its kind judgment which secured a unique legal ruling from the Court of Protection to extract and store sperm from a fatally injured man for use in posthumous fertility treatment following difficulties with fertility clinic paperwork and featured in The Independent (13 July 2018) and The Times (14 July 2018).

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. 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 dispute about 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 (who was neither a genetic nor a birth mother) following marriage breakdown and divorce and 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).

Andrea Heywood, who aged 24, was denied IVF funding on the NHS by her local hospital authority for being too young and featured in The Independent and Mail Online (4 June 2012).

Donna and Dean Marshall, helping them win a rare legal battle against their PCT for funding for IVF treatment on the NHS and featured in The Telegraph and BBC South Today (20 December 2011) and the Portsmouth News (21 December 2011).

Melanie and Robert Gladwin, helping them to save their frozen embryos from destruction and winning a high profile last minute change to the law in relation to embryo storage in September 2009.  Louisa Ghevaert was subsequently featured as The Times Lawyer of the Week (1 October 2009) and Law Society Gazette Lawyer in the News (17 September 2009).

You can find out more here.

News and commentary

Our expert assisted reproduction lawyer Louisa Ghevaert regularly features in the media, including:

“Expert Witness Fertility Law: Claims for IVF, Donor Conception and Surrogacy”, (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog, 18 May 2022).

“International surrogacy law: existing conflicts unresolved” (BioNews, comment piece by Louisa Ghevaert, 14 March 2022).

“Women fired for having IVF: Appallingly many companies still do not understand the toll fertility treatment takes, despite one-in-seven couples using it” (The Daily Mail 4 August 2021).

Podcast “The Intricacies of Fertility Preservation” interview with Louisa Ghevaert and Eloise Edington of Fertility Help Hub (17 December 2020), also on podcast apps Apple, Spotify and Soundcloud

“The UK Supreme Court awards damages for commercial surrogacy”, (BioNews, comment piece by Louisa Ghevaert, 6 April 2020).

Apple podcast on Speak From The Body with Avni Touch entitled “Fertility law for modern families with Louisa Ghevaert” (26 February 2020).

“Why we need root and branch law reform”, (BioNews 25 November 2019) and longer associated article “Why we need fertility law reform: the paradigm shift” (25 November 2019).

“The significance of fertility: A landmark ruling on posthumous conception”, (BioNews, 3 September 2018).

“Anything but child’s play: surrogacy and thorny issues of identity, parenthood and status in modern families”, (Family Law, 29 August 2018).

“Posthumous conception: a legacy in life, incapacity and death” (Family Law Week, 20 August 2018).

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

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