Leading cases

The cases that made international surrogacy possible

We represented the parents in the two original international surrogacy cases, setting the path for so many others.

In Re X and Y (2008), twins born to British parents through Ukraine surrogacy ended up ‘marooned stateless and parentless’ by the law, and the High Court made the first ever parental order following international commercial surrogacy.

In Re L (2010) the same judge went a step further, ruling not only that a parental order should be made in that particular case, but saying that the welfare of the child should always be the court’s ‘paramount consideration’ when considering whether to authorise commercial surrogacy payments.

These cases are still relied upon in every single international surrogacy case which comes before the court.

The case that changed the law for single parents

We successfully overturned the legal rule that only couples could apply for parental orders. Representing a single dad through US surrogacy, we asked the court to make a parental order even though the law allowed only joint applications.  When the High Court said it could not (in Re Z (2015)) we sought and won a declaration that the law was incompatible with the Human Rights Act (Re Z (No. 2) (2016)).

This rare declaration of incompatibility, made by the High Court, compelled Parliment to change the law to end discrimination against single parents. Our client subsequently became the first ever sole father to be recorded on a UK birth certificate.

Importantly, the case also prompted the Law Commission to begin a review of UK surrogacy law as a whole.

The parents who fought to use their deceased daughter’s frozen eggs

In a ‘world first’ case which attracted media attention across the globe and front page national headlines in the UK, we successfully represented a couple who had lost their daughter to cancer, and wanted to honour her wishes to use the eggs she had stores and conceive a grandchild.

Our initial challenge of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority was unsuccessful (see M v HFEA (2015)) but we won in the Court of Appeal (see M v HFEA (2016)), giving our clients the chance to export their daughter’s eggs to the USA to try to conceive a grandchild.

The first same-sex legal parents to defend a claim from a sperm donor

We represented a female same-sex couple both recorded on the birth certificate of their son, conceived with the help of a known donor. In the first case of its kind to test the new laws recognising same-sex parents, the court had to decide whether the donor should have the father-syle involvement and recognition he sought – or be treated as a sperm donor.

The donor won permission to apply to court, prompting a front page national headline ‘Donor Dads win rights to see children’, even though ultimately he was given only limited contact and the judge respected the rights of the parents (Re G and Re Z (2013)).

Other notable reported cases – surrogacy

Platonic co-parents – X & Anor v B & Anor (2022)

First parental order granted to two parents who were co-parenting without cohabiting or being in a relationship.

Non-biological single mother through international surrogacy – J v K (2021)

First ever adoption order granted following international surrogacy, to a single mother who did not qualify for a parental order.

How quickly can you establish domicile of choice? – Re A (2021)

A single mother of a child born through surrogacy who had only just arrived in the UK was found to have a UK domicile.

Intended father who died during the pregnancy – Re X (2020)

After the unexpected death of an intended father during a surrogate pregnancy, his widow made the first successful posthumous parental order application.

Illegal overseas surrogacy arrangement – Re A-B (2020)

The court gave guidance on weighing up illegality against the child’s welfare and granted a parental order.

Alternative to a parental order for a single dad – F v S (2017)

We obtained a child arrangements order for a single dad through US surrogacy because, at the time, the law still did not allow single parents to be granted parental orders.

Parents living overseas can be UK domiciled – Re AB (2016)

Parents who were originally German and, after living in the UK, had returned to live in Germany had sufficient connection with the UK to be eligible for a parental order.

Parents who lied to court about how much they paid – Re A, B and C (2016)

Two fathers of three children born to three UK surrogates misled the court about the amounts paid, but were granted parental orders.

UK’s first South African surrogacy case – Re A (2015)

In the UK’s first South African surrogacy case, we won a parental order for a same-sex couple with multiple international homes.

Parental order made after the 6 month deadline – Re A and B (2015)

We successfully obtained parental orders for parents of an 8 and 5 year old born through US surrogacy notwithstanding the need to apply within 6 months of the birth.

Key domicile case for British parents living overseas – CC v DD (2014)

A British mother living long term in France was granted a parental order having kept her UK domicile of origin. The case is often relied on in applications from expatriate British parents.

Gay dads who won custody after a failed UK surrogacy – H v S (2015)

In a high-profile High Court decision, we successfully represented a same-sex couple fighting for care of their 15 month old daughter

UK’s first Russian surrogacy case – AB v DE (2013)

In the UK’s first Russian surrogacy case, we won a parental order for UK parents.

Parental order made despite high payments for US surrogacy – J v G (2013)

Key case on payments for overseas surrogacy, then representing the highest ever payments ever authorised by the UK court.

Parental order granted to parents who had recently  moved to the UK – Re A and B (2013) 

A same-sex couple who were living in the UK but not yet British were found to have adopted a UK domicile of choice here. 

Surrogate consent waived after Indian surrogate could not be found – Re D L (2012)

The court made a parental order even though the Indian surrogate had not given her consent because she could not be found.

Early Ukraine surrogacy case – Re IJ (2011)

One of the earliest international surrogacy cases, highlighting the legal complications of surrogacy in the Ukraine.

Other notable reported cases – sperm donation

Parenthood of second female parent confirmed – Re Y-Z (2024)

A further case in which the High Court was able to affirm legal parenthood without a court hearing, following clinic forms erroneously signed the wrong way round.

Affirming parenthood without a court hearing – Re X & Anor (2023)

The High Court was able to affirm the legal parenthood of a father through sperm donation without a court hearing.

Resolving clinic form errors – Re A, B and Bourn Hall (2021)

The court resolved parenthood for a female same-sex couple, even though the clinic forms they signed did not refer to legal parenthood.

Winning parenthood for a non-birth same-sex mother – Re C (2019)

We secured legal parenthood for a non-birth lesbian mother following an acrimonious separation.

Remedying clinic form errors for a same-sex couple – Re P (2018)

We obtained a declaration of parentage for a lesbian couple whose parentage was put at risk by errors at their fertility clinic.

High Court guidance on the future management of sperm donation cases – Re AD to AH (2017)

The President of the High Court Family Division gave important guidance on the approach the court should take to cases involving parenthood form errors at fertility clinics. We fought for an easier protocol after representing five female same-sex couples whose parenthood was put at risk by errors at their fertility clinics.

Resolving fertility clinic errors for two fathers through sperm donation – Re P (2017)

We represented two fathers through sperm donation whose legal status was jeopardised by incorrect fertility clinic paperwork. The President of the High Court Family Division made declarations of parentage securing their status.

Sperm donor pursued for maintenance – Andy Bathie (2008)

Fireman Andy Bathie donated his sperm to a female same-sex couple, and was subsequently pursued for maintainence by the CSA. The case had international new coverage in January 2008 and Natalie was named as TheTimes’ Lawyer of the Week.

Other notable reported cases – conception and assisted reproduction

Adopted adult’s right to have biological father on birth certificate – Re E (2022)

Declaration of parentage made by the High Court to enable an adopted adult to have her biological father retrospectively added to her original birth certificate.

Winning extended storage for embryos – Melanie and Robert Gladwin (2009)

High-profile embryo storage case by parents seeking to save their embryos from destruction, winning a change to the law permitting storage beyond five years.

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