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There are a variety of options to build a family through surrogacy including:

  • Straight surrogacy arrangement (utilising the surrogate’s egg).
  • Gestational surrogacy arrangement (with own/donor eggs or sperm).
  • UK altruistic surrogacy arrangement (with own/donor eggs or sperm).
  • International surrogacy arrangement (with own/donor eggs or sperm).

Surrogacy is now an accepted UK family building option as recognised by the Department of Health and Social Care in its guidance on surrogacy arrangements. There is also growing interest and demand for altruistic UK surrogacy arrangements and international commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Surrogacy raises a number of legal and practical issues concerning a surrogate born child’s legal parentage, citizenship, birth certificate arrangements and care and upbringing. There is no international harmonisation of surrogacy law, with some jurisdictions taking a permissive approach to surrogacy whilst others restrict or ban surrogacy (e.g. depending upon political and social factors, personal situation, relationship and marital status). This can create complex legal issues and conflicts of law for intended parents about their parental status and their surrogate born child’s legal identity, rights of residence and entitlement to a passport and much more. Coupled with evolving law and policy, fertility treatment, egg and sperm donation, challenging personal situations and emotional dynamics, surrogacy can create complex and unforeseen legal issues for intended parents, surrogates, children and families.

There are many situations when specialist surrogacy law advice and legal representation is required from a surrogacy lawyer, including:

  • To access fertility treatment for surrogacy at a UK licensed clinic.
  • To understand and proactively manage the legal issues associated with a surrogacy agreement (e.g. surrogacy payments, consent of surrogate, eligibility for a parental order in the English Family Court).
  • To obtain legal parentage and parental responsibility for a UK or overseas surrogate born child (e.g. a parental order or a parental responsibility order).
  • To help obtain a British birth certificate or British passport for a surrogate born child.
  • To resolve difficulties or a dispute with a surrogate during pregnancy or after birth of a surrogate born child.
  • To resolve a dispute or issues about the care, upbringing and legal status of a surrogate born child (e.g. a child arrangements order, a parental responsibility order or a wardship order).
  • Expert witness surrogacy, donor conception and fertility treatment law service to support a claim for damages 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.

How we can help

Our expert surrogacy law services include:

  • Initial legal advice.
  • Legal packages (terms and conditions apply).
  • Bespoke legal advice tailored to your situation, needs and wishes.
  • Legal support and representation in court proceedings.

Package One

UK surrogacy arrangement – legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice for people undertaking UK surrogacy. It:

  • Provides bespoke legal advice on UK surrogacy law (including legal parentage, parental responsibility, a child’s upbringing and legal and practical implications arising).

Package Two

International surrogacy - legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice for people undertaking international surrogacy. It:

  • Provides legal advice on UK surrogacy law and its international application (including legal parentage, parental responsibility, a child’s upbringing and legal and practical implications arising).

Bespoke surrogacy law services

We provide expert tailored surrogacy law advice and representation in relation to legal proceedings for a surrogate born child in the English Family Court. Click on the links below to find out more, including:

For more information about our other bespoke specialist fertility, children and modern family law services see below or contact us by email or telephone.

Leading surrogacy law cases

Louisa Ghevaert is an expert surrogacy lawyer with unrivalled legal expertise. She has dealt with many of the leading surrogacy cases in the UK (encompassing both UK and international surrogacy) and helped shape surrogacy law and policy in the UK, 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).

In the News

Our expert surrogacy lawyer Louisa Ghevaert also regularly commentates on surrogacy law in the press, podcasts, articles and publications.

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

Above The Law “Denmark threatens to deport surrogate-born children” (9 February 2022, featuring Louisa Ghevaert who acted for the male intended parents in this case).

The Mail on Sunday “I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong’: Businessman, 66, to be UK’s oldest surrogate father with his male partner, 40” (6 November 2021) featuring Louisa Ghevaert.

Podcast “The Intricacies of Fertility Preservation” interview with Louisa Ghevaert and Eloise Edington of Fertility Help Hub about fertility preservation, surrogacy and law reform (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).

Law Commission: reforming surrogacy law – (July/August 2019 edition of Resolution’s The Review Magazine).

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

You can read more here.

If you require legal assistance or wish to discuss surrogacy law in the UK contact our surrogacy lawyer

 enquiries@louisaghevaertassociates.co.uk

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

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