We have long experience challenging the boundaries of traditional family law. Here are cases we have fought which have been made public for making new law:
On surrogacy and international surrogacy
Re A and B (surrogacy domicile) 2013 - The court awarded legal parenthood to gay dads who had a child through surrogacy in India. The fathers were an American-Polish couple who had recently moved to the UK, and the court had to consider whether they met the criteria to be 'domiciled' in the UK. The judgment was published as guidance on the principles which will be applied for parents who are UK resident but not originally from the UK.
In 2012, we acted for Kyle Casson, the UK's first single dad to conceive through a surrogacy arrangement in the UK. Not eligible to apply for a parental order, Kyle has sought to challenge UK surrogacy law. The case was reported in the Daily Mail and on ITV Daybreak.
Re D and L (surrogacy) 2012 - This was the first case in UK legal history to make a parental order without the surrogate's consent. UK gay dads had twins born through surrogacy in India but the surrogate disappeared before giving consent to their UK court application. The case established that the court could make a parental order without consent (which is normally required to be given full freely and unconditionally and more than six weeks after the birth) if the surrogate genuinely could not be found and extensive efforts had been made to find her. We represented the parents in this case.
Re IJ (a child) 2011 - The High Court gave parenthood to a British couple who had conceived with a Ukrainian surrogate mother, highlighting the dangers of overseas surrogacy and the risks of relying on advice from foreign agencies untrained in UK law. Mr Justice Hedley gave a rare interview to the BBC's World at One about the case, prompting public debate on the issue. This included a debate on BBC's Woman's Hour about whether commercial surrogacy should be legalised, for which Natalie was interviewed. We represented the parents in this case.
Re L (a minor) 2010 - This landmark decision downgraded UK public policy against commercial surrogacy and was the first surrogacy case heard under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. Awarding parenthood to a British couple who had entered into a commercial surrogacy arrangement in the USA, the High Court ruled that the child’s welfare must be the court's 'paramount consideration' and that a parental order would be refused only if payments represented the 'clearest abuse of public policy'. The decision was widely reported at the time, including with a front page headline in the Daily Telegraph ("Childless couples win the right to pay surrogate mothers"). We represented the parents in this case.
Re X and Y (Foreign Surrogacy) 2008 - The UK's very first international surrogacy arrangement ratified by a UK court. The High Court made a landmark decision, the first of its kind, to 'authorise' the payments that had been made by a British couple to their Ukrainian surrogate mother, even though UK legislation and public policy is against payments for surrogacy. The ruling safeguarded the welfare of the twin children (who were otherwise stateless and parentless). The Times reported the case as "British surrogacy ruling saves baby twins from Ukraine orphanage". This case has formed the foundation for all subsequent international surrogacy cases heard by the English court. Natalie successfully led the case for the parents at her previous law firm, supported by several other members of our team.
On donor conception
Re G and Re Z (2013) - In a defining decision on donor conception and the first to test the rights given to same sex parents by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, Mr Justice Baker gave permission to two men who were legally sperm donors, to argue in court that they should have rights of contact with their biological children. However, the court also made it clear that any expectation that a donor would be treated by the family court just as a separated father was 'wholly unrealistic' and the court would consider very carefully whether any contact should ultimately be given. We represented the lesbian mothers the case of Re Z - one of the two linked cases, and the case which was responsible for leading the argument and drawing the wider issues to the court's attention. Following widespread publicity on the ruling (including on the front page of the Daily Mail) we also advised the HFEA, British Fertility Society and various other charities and patient organisations on the implications of the decision.
Mark Langridge donated his sperm to a lesbian couple in 1998 and 2000, and was pursued by the CSA for maintenance more than a decade later in 2012. His story received press coverage in the Guardian, Daily Mail and on ITV's This Morning show in October 2012.
Fireman Andy Bathie donated his sperm to a lesbian couple, and was subsequently pursued for maintenance by the CSA. The case had international news coverage in January 2008 and Natalie, who advised Andy, was named as Times Lawyer of the Week.
On embryo storage
Melanie and Robert Gladwin fought successfully to save their embryos from destruction with our help. Caught in a gap in the law, their much-wanted embryos faced destruction simply because they were stored too soon to benefit from changes to the law that were due to come into effect on 1 October 2009. Winning from the government an amendment to the new law just days before it was due to come into force, Melanie and Robert saved not only their own embryos, but also those of other parents storing embryos for surrogacy. The Daily Telegraph, among others, reported the case as "Embryo storage U-turn allows couples chance of parenthood".