2013 has been another busy year in terms of the practice of fertility and family law. The law continues to evolve and face many challenges in view of the globalisation of fertility treatment, increasingly complex family building expectations and modern family life.
I was delighted to be invited to lecture at The Fertility Show at the London Olympia on 3 November 2013 on the legal issues arising from UK and international surrogacy arrangements. This was closely followed by my attendance at the American Association of Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAARTA) autumn conference in Charleston, South Carolina from 10 – 12 November 2013 where I delivered a lecture on European Fertility law. This follows on from my previous lectures this year on fertility and family law at the College of Medicine’s Annual Conference in London in June 2013 and at the American Bar Association’s spring conference in Alaska in April 2013. These events provide a forum to raise awareness and discuss the challenges and lessons learned by all those involved in the fertility sector.
I welcome the UK industry recognition that has been attributed to fertility law this year. For my part, I am delighted to have been ranked as a leading lawyer in the field of fertility and family law by Chambers & Partners UK 2014 and Legal 500 UK 2013. I was also delighted that my legal practice was Highly Commended at The Law Society Excellence Awards 2013 in the category of Business Development and Innovation and that I was shortlisted at Jordans Family Law Awards 2013 in the category of Most Innovative Family Lawyer of the Year. Industry recognition marks the rising profile attributed to fertility law and its increasing association with family law. It also helps to raise awareness of the complex legal issues associated with fertility treatment and modern family building options.
Surrogacy continues to spark much debate around the world and challenge law and policy makers. I provided expert evidence to the Hague in relation to its ongoing work in the arena of international surrogacy in September 2013 and like many, I await its further report next year. There have also been several recent legal challenges in the European Court of Justice brought by intended mothers in surrogacy cases in relation to maternity rights (one brought by a woman based in the north of England). I welcome the government’s commitment to introduce maternity and paternity rights for intended parents through surrogacy in 2015 and hope this will help to alleviate the difficulties many intended parents currently face.
Fertility law and its association with family law remains work in progress. As such, there is still much work to be done.