Genomics, Genetics & Fertility Law

At Louisa Ghevaert Associates, we understand that complex issues associated with genomics and genetics can arise in a family building and assisted reproductive context. We also understand that advances in genomics and technology are happening rapidly, creating new opportunities and issues. We have leading expertise in navigating and resolving complex fertility law and family building issues with a genetic aspect, including:

We provide bespoke legal advice and solutions. Our preeminent legal expertise delivers innovative results. We work closely with you recognising that every situation is unique.

If you require specialist legal assistance or wish to discuss your situation contact us.

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

How we can help

Our legal services include:

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

Leading Cases

X v Y [2022] EWFC 77, representing the applicant in a complex application for a declaration of parentage in the English High Court following an ancestry website search and a 35-year quest to find her biological father. In doing so, the court navigated complex legal issues and drew inferences from the respondent’s refusal to undergo DNA testing.

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.

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 in which Louisa Ghevaert was part of the wife’s legal team and 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 and featured in The Independent (13 July 2018) and The Times (14 July 2018).

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 the matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Case V) [2016] EWHC 2356 (Fam), obtaining 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. The case for the first time gave guidance on the practice of making interim costs orders in favour of patients to fund litigation and access to justice following errors in the completion of consent forms at UK fertility clinics.

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).

News & Commentary

Our expert fertility lawyer Louisa Ghevaert regularly commentates on genomics and fertility law, including:

“Mary Warnock at 100: The Architect of Embryo Law” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 20 April 2024).

FemTech Lab Spring 2024 Connect (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 25 March 2024).

“Public Policy Projects Global Genomics Conference 2023” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 10 November 2023).

“Genomics England Research Summit 2023” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 20 September 2023).

“Decoding the Future of Women 2023” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 13 June 2023).

“The Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 16 March 2023).

“A Conversation with Professor Sir Rory Collins Chief Executive of UK Biobank” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 27 October 2022).

“Perspectives on Illumina’s Genomics Forum 2022” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 6 October 2022).

“Illumina Genomics Forum 2022: Spotlight Speaker Bill Gates” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 5 October 2022).

“Illumina Genomics Forum 2022: A Conversation with Former US President Barack Obama” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 4 October 2022).

“Illumina’s Inaugural Genomics Forum 2022” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 3 October 2022).

“Cord blood banking; life-saving potential that’s usually discarded at birth” (interview with Amanda Williamson of Future Health Biobank, 21 September 2022).

“Is it important to protect my fertility and genetic legacy?” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 13 September 2022).

“Our Father, DNA testing & what do we mean by ‘parentage’? (by Louisa Ghevaert for Fertility Help Hub, a fertility lifestyle platform, 24 August 2022).

“Understanding of Fertility, Genomics and Embryo Research in the UK in 2022” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 3 August 2022).

Egg, sperm and embryo freezing: what could go wrong?” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates blog 20 June 2022).

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

“The Economics of Older Mums” (BBC World Service radio interview featuring Louisa Ghevaert 12 October 2021).

“Donor sperm DNA ancestry information available at California Cryobank” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 20 August 2021).

“Human genome editing in a fertility context: The World Health Organization’s framework for governance of human genome editing” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 29 July 2021).

“Why we need genomic and fertility law reform part v” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 22 May 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 future of female fertility: are biological constraints inevitable?” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 30 November 2020).

“The UK’s New National Genomic Healthcare Strategy, Genome UK” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 20 October 2020).

“Human Genome Editing: World Health Organization & Global Governance” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 22 September 2020).

“Human gene editing: from evolution to revolution? Why we need fertility and wider law reform part IV” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 10 September 2020).

“Saving and storing your baby’s cord blood and tissue: is this a growing trend?” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 18 August 2020).

“Why we need fertility and wider law reform part III” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 17 July 2020).

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 fertility and wider law reform part II” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog 15 January 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).

Rachael Bland’s fight to preserve her fertility is a battle fought by many modern women (Female First, 7 September 2018).

3 Person IVF approved by the HFEA – what does this mean? (Jordan Publishing Family Law, 31 January 2017).

You can read more here.

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