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, adoption, complex children and family law disputes, divorce and finances, cohabitation, modern families and international family law.

I have practised family and fertility law for over 18 years, including complex litigation with an international element, acquisition of legal status and parental rights for birth and non birth parents and other significant adults, issues surrounding financial provision, complex family and assisted reproduction disputes and issues surrounding fertility preservation and fertility treatment.

My pioneering practice of fertility and family law in the UK comes from my own experience of a hard won family.

Law and policy

I am a recognised legal expert in the field of fertility and family law and regularly engage at a law and policy level.

  •  I am a member of the national Egg Donation Stakeholder Advisory Group led by De Montfort University, concerned with the future legal landscape of egg donation law and policy in the UK and Europe.
  • I am an ART Fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and an ART Fellow of the American Bar Association.
  • I feature in The Lawyer Hot 100 List 2018 for my groundbreaking legal work in the family, fertility and medical sectors, which recognised me ‘as influential at a law and policy making level’. The Lawyer Hot 100 List “celebrates the UK’s top lawyers: the ones acting on the most significant matters, disrupting the industry with their creative flair. It tracks exceptional individuals from private practice, in-house and the Bar”.

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 law in 2012 and to The Hague on international surrogacy law, policy and reform in 2013. I was a member of the SUK Working Party on Surrogacy Law Reform from 2014-2018 and contributor to its first landmark report on surrogacy in the UK entitled “Myth busting and reform”, which informed parliamentary debate in the House of Lords in December 2016 and contributed to the ongoing work of The Law Commission in England and Wales on surrogacy law reform. I gave expert evidence in parliament on surrogacy law reform to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy (APPG on Surrogacy) led by Andrew Percy MP in November 2018.

Commentary and media

I am a widely published author on fertility, surrogacy and modern family law issues in magazines and leading legal publications. I am:

  • A specialist contributor on surrogacy law in practitioner reference book The International Family Law Practice (Fifth Edition 2016-17, Family Law).
  • 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 provide expert commentary in the media on fertility, family and parenting law issues, including television, radio and the national press. Click here for more information and which includes:

  • Providing advice to the BBC television producers of Holby City on surrogacy law and practice (2010).
  • Interview on BBC Breakfast TV (January 2011) about UK surrogacy law and policy.
  • Interview on Ukrainian television (July 2012) about international surrogacy law and policy.  
  • Featuring in a National Geographic television documentary series TABOO (August 2012) about private sperm donation law, policy and practice.
  • Publishing an article in BioNews (2 July 2012), calling for national reform of law and policy for IVF funding on the NHS.
  • Featuring in a television documentary series on Chinese state television entitled “What You Didn’t Know About The West: Healthcare” about fertility treatment, medical and family law (broadcast spring 2013).
  • Interview on BBC World Service ‘Have Your Say’ on international surrogacy, policy and law reform (20 February 2015).
  • Publishing an article in The Times entitled “Surrogacy in the UK; time for legal reform?” (26 November 2015).
  • Interview on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour on Indian Surrogacy Law Reform and surrogacy policy (20 September 2016).
  • Publishing an article in The Times on posthumous conception law and policy in the UK entitled “Was it legal to create a grandson with a dead man’s sperm?” (13 September 2018).

Awards

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.

Cases

I have dealt with numerous well known and landmark fertility and modern family law cases in the UK, helping to shape law, policy and practice including:

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2018] EWCA Civ 2832, where for the first time the Court of Appeal awarded damages for the costs of fertility treatment and commercial surrogacy in California for a woman rendered infertile and unable to carry a pregnancy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. I gave expert evidence in the case, which  featured in The Telegraph on 19 December 2018 and The Times, The Telegraph, The Mail Online and The Mirror on 27 January 2019.

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 and featured in The Independent (13 July 2018) and The Times (14 July 2018).

AB v CD, EF, GH & IL [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam), representing the intended mother in contested international assisted reproduction and modern family law proceedings in the High Court. This case marks a legal first in the treatment of a modern blended family following divorce,  re-marriage, serious allegations of domestic violence and abuse, the legal status and identity of 2 surrogate born children, their biological, intended and social parents and arrangements for the care and upbringing of the 2 children.

XX v Whittington Hospital NHS Trust [2017] EWHC 2318 (QB), being the first legal case in the UK in which the High Court awarded damages to a woman for altruistic UK surrogacy and fertility treatment following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies. I gave expert evidence in the case and it marks the cross-section of fertility, family 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. For the first time, this case gave guidance on the practice of making interim costs orders in favour of fertility patients to fund litigation and access to justice following errors by UK fertility clinics in the completion of consent forms. 

In JP v LP & Ors [2014] EWHC 595 (Fam), acting for the intended father in a high profile complex UK surrogacy dispute in the High Court following marriage breakdown and divorce. For the first time this established a legal framework for cases where the legal criteria for a parental order cannot be met, including  wardship, and featured in The Telegraph, BBC News and Mail Online (6 March 2014).

In Re C [2013] EWHC 2408 (Fam), 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.

Andrea Heywood, who aged 24, was denied IVF funding on the NHS by her local hospital authority for being too young and featured in The Independent and Mail Online (4 June 2012).

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] EWHC 921, 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] EWHC 3146 (Fam), 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 and featured in The Telegraph (8 December 2010).

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).

In Re X and Y (foreign surrogacy) [2008] EWHC 3030 (Fam), 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.