Continuing problems with legal parentage for couples having donor sperm treatment at UK fertility clinics

Further to our blog last September about administrative errors made by IVF clinic there have been another run of declaration of parentage cases, nicknamed the “Alphabet” cases, before the President of the Family Division.

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Following a national audit of fertility clinics in the UK, the HFEA identified that no fewer than 90 cases have “anomalies” on the Form WP and Form PP, which must be completed before treatment starts. These errors affect unmarried women conceiving via IVF treatment using a sperm donor; the result being that her partner’s legal status as the second legal parent becomes unclear.

The President has now given final judgment (and made declarations of parentage) in fourteen cases (Cases A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N and O), six cases are awaiting final hearing (Cases P, Q,R, S, T and U) and there are others pending.

The President has numerous times in his judgments highlighted the administrative failures which have led to immense strain being placed on these families. Although the parents in these particular cases have had their position resolved, other families who are in the same position can’t be certain of their own legal status unless they too get legal advice and make an application to the High Court.

In all cases, the fertility clinics have paid the legal fees for the application to be made, although this will understandably be placing a strain on them which may in turn lead to an increase in fees for patients in the future. It is hoped that these cases will lead to significant improvement in both understanding and practice by the clinics (and the HFEA, who regulates them).

If you are unmarried and have conceived a child through sperm donation in the past, and would like some advice and clarification on your legal parenthood please do get in touch with us on +44 (0)20 3701 5915.

There is also some more information on legal parenthood after sperm donation on our Knowledge Centre.

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