President of the High Court Family Division endorses international surrogacy

December 13, 2011

Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the High Court Family Division, has made public his decision to give parenthood to the British parents of twins born through surrogacy in India.  The President said the issues were of “considerable public importance” and he wished to endorse the previous judgments of Mr Justice Hedley in other similar cases.

The decision, from one of the UK’s most senior family judges, represents a bolstering of the UK court’s position on international surrogacy:  that although commercially organised surrogacy is not yet permitted in the UK, British parents can be awarded parenthood if they go abroad and pay a foreign surrogate mother more than her ‘reasonable expenses’.  Sir Nicholas Wall made clear that the court’s paramount consideration is the child’s welfare, and that a birth certificate will be given as long as there has been no exploitation and the parents are not circumventing child protection laws in the UK.

In this particular case, two Indian surrogate mothers (carrying embryos created with the intended father’s sperm and eggs from the same anonymous donor) gave birth to a boy and a girl within a few days of each other, following a surrogacy arrangement commissioned by a British couple.  A total of some £27,000 was paid to the Indian clinic.  The court was ultimately satisfied that the parents were “entirely genuine and straightforward” and that “it is plainly in the interests of these two children that they should brought up by Mr and Mrs A as their parents”.

The case follows similar decisions by Mr Justice Hedley in the cases of Re X and Y (2008) in which British parents paid £23,000 to a Ukrainian surrogate mother, Re S (2009) involving a Californian surrogacy arrangement, Re L (2010) involving a surrogate mother based in Illinois and Re IJ (2011) involving a Ukrainian surrogacy.

For further information you can read the judgment in full or see our international surrogacy law pages.

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