More High Court decisions following sperm donor clinic errors

Another NGA case has been published recently, and joins the long list of other declaration of parentage cases, nicknamed the “Alphabet” cases which have been heard by the High Court.

The basic facts of each of these cases is that an “anomaly” has been found on the Form WP and/or Form PP, which are the HFEA forms which must be completed before treatment starts at a fertility clinic. These forms confer parentage where unmarried women conceive through IVF treatment using a sperm donor, and any mistakes results in her partner’s legal status (as the second legal parent) becoming unclear.NGA_Stock_238

In each case the President of the Family Division was able to make a declaration of parentage and put the parentage of the women in question, beyond reasonable doubt. The President acknowledged in his judgment “the stress, worry and anxiety burdening all the parents in these cases, and the powerful human emotions that are inevitably engaged” but how these cases were, in legal terms, “straightforward and simple.”

The President has now made declarations of parentage in 29 different cases, with these cases taking that figure to 34, and we understand that there are others still pending. In all declaration of parentage cases, the fertility clinics have paid the legal fees for the application to be made.

Our current understanding is that some parents have chosen not to apply for declarations of parentage in the hope their status will never be questioned, and in practice it may not be. However, if parents were to separate or something where to happen to the children’s birth mother, then issues over parentage could unravel and cause significant problems.

We would therefore encourage anyone who know that there is an irregularity with their forms to get in touch and we would be happy to advise on the best way forward. Alternatively, if you are unmarried and have conceived a child through sperm donation in the past, and would simply like some advice and clarification on your legal parenthood, please do get in touch with us on +44 (0)20 3701 5915.

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