About Louisa Ghevaert

I am a preeminent expert in fertility, parenting and complex family law in the UK.  My expertise covers international and UK surrogacy, donor conception, fertility treatment law, posthumous conception, co-parenting and known donation, intercountry adoption, complex children and family law disputes, divorce and finances, cohabitation, modern families and international family law.

I can be contacted by email lghevaert@vardags.com, by telephone +44(0)207 404 9390 or visit Vardags.com.

I lead the fertility, surrogacy and modern family law practice at Vardags. I am ranked by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 UK  as a recognised legal expert in the field of fertility and family law. I am a member of the national Egg Donation Stakeholder Advisory Group led by De Montfort University.  I am also an ART Fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and an ART Fellow of the American Bar Association.

I am honoured to be included in the Lawyer Hot 100 2018 for my groundbreaking legal work in the family, fertility and medical sectors. My legal practice was Highly Commended at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2013 in the Category of Business Development and Innovation (shortlisted in 2012).  I was also shortlisted by Jordans Family Law Awards 2013 in the category of Most Innovative Family Lawyer of the Year. My pioneering practice of fertility and parenting law in the UK came from my own experience of a hard won family.

I am a widely published author on fertility, surrogacy and family law issues in magazines and leading legal publications, and a specialist contributor on surrogacy law in major practitioner reference book The International Family Law Practice (Fifth Edition 2016-17, Family Law). I am a co-author of medical reference book Reducing Risk in Fertility Treatment (First Edition, April 2015). I also lecture nationally and internationally on family, parenting and fertility law.

I have dealt with numerous well known fertility law cases in the UK including:

Y v A Healthcare NHS Trust & The HFEA & Z (by his litigation friend, The Official Solicitor) [2018] EWCOP 18, a first-of-its kind judgment which secured a unique legal ruling from the Court of Protection to extract and store sperm from a fatally injured man for use in posthumous fertility treatment.

AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam), representing the intended mother in contested court proceedings about the legal status of 2 surrogate born children and arrangements for their care and upbringing following her divorce and re-marriage and serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse.

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWHC 2318 (QB), being the first legal case in the UK in which the Court awards damages to a woman for surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. This case marks the cross-section of fertility and medical negligence law. It highlights the importance of fertility, surrogacy and parenting law aspects when medical negligence renders a woman infertile and unable to carry a pregnancy.

In the matter of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (Case V) [2016] EWHC 2356 (Fam), obtaining a declaration of parentage for a woman in a same-sex relationship for a child conceived through fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic licensed by the HFEA.  The HFEA Consent Form WP was missing from the clinic file.

In JP v LP & Ors [2014], acting for the intended father in a high profile complex UK surrogacy dispute case where the non-extendable six month deadline for issuing a parental order had expired and where the surrogate born child was made a ward of the English High Court.

In Re C [2013], obtaining a parental order for intended parents who conceived a child through a Californian (USA) commercial surrogacy arrangement. This case redefines the English Court’s approach to the authorisation of commercial payments in view of the UK public policy restriction against commercial surrogacy.

Donna and Dean Marshall, helping them win a rare legal battle against their PCT for funding for IVF treatment on the NHS and featured in the Telegraph and BBC South Today (20 December 2011) and the Portsmouth News (21 December 2011).

In Re IJ (a Child) [2011], obtaining a parental order for British parents who’s surrogate born child was born stateless and parentless in Ukraine.  The case highlights the legal difficulties associated with foreign surrogacy and the critical importance of expert legal advice.

In Re L (a minor) [2010], obtaining a parental order for British parents who conceived a child with a US surrogate mother. The case marks a legal watershed ruling that the welfare of the child is decisive over the public policy ban on commercial surrogacy in the UK except in the clearest cases of abuse of public policy.

In Re X and Y (foreign surrogacy) [2008], being the first case in UK legal history to test the law for British parents conceiving through an international commercial surrogacy arrangement and which involved complex and groundbreaking legal issues.

Melanie and Robert Gladwin, helping them to save their frozen embryos from destruction and winning a high profile last minute change to the law in relation to embryo storage in September 2009.  I was subsequently featured as The Times Lawyer of the Week  (1 October 2009) and Law Society Gazette Lawyer in the News (17 September 2009).

I provide expert commentary in the media on fertility, family and parenting law issues, including television, radio and the national press. I have provided advice to the BBC television producers of Holby City. I was interviewed on BBC Breakfast (January 2011) and on Ukrainian television (July 2012).  I featured in National Geographic television documentary series TABOO (August 2012) and in a television documentary series on Chinese state television entitled “What You Didn’t Know About The West: Healthcare” (broadcast spring 2013).

I was a member of the stakeholders’ Parliamentary strategy group concerned with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and its associated regulations, and lobbied for legal changes on a diverse range of issues, including surrogacy and embryo storage. I submitted written evidence as an expert adviser to the HFEA’s Ethics and Law Advisory Committee, and provided detailed legal comment to the Department of Health’s 2009 consultation on proposed draft surrogacy regulations, which won changes to the law on nationality in international surrogacy cases. I  provided expert evidence to the Nuffield Council on donor conception in 2012 and to the Hague on international surrogacy in 2013.

I have eighteen years of family and fertility law experience, including complex litigation with an international element, acquisition of legal status and parental rights for birth and non birth parents and other significant adults, as well as issues surrounding financial provision and complex family disputes. Having qualified as a solicitor in 2000, I worked in private practice from 2000 to 2009 before co-founding the UK’s first specialist fertility and parenting law firm.  I am now  Head of Fertility and Surrogacy, Director – Family Law at Vardags.