International surrogacy

English surrogacy law is particularly complex if you enter into a surrogacy arrangement abroad. There is no international unification of surrogacy law and English law will not automatically recognise a foreign birth certificate naming intended parents as the parent/s. There are many potential legal pitfalls to avoid to ensure that your child is not left stranded in your foreign destination country and that you have the appropriate legal status to care for your child in the UK.

I have advised people at all stages of the process on an international scale and I can provide invaluable help and support whatever your situation and wherever in the world you conceive through surrogacy.

You will need to grapple with all the relevant English legal issues associated with an international surrogacy arrangement including:

  1. Travelling home safely to the UK with your surrogate born child after the birth.
  2. What legal status you will initially have for your surrogate born child in the UK and any available interim legal measures available pending a parental order.
  3. The criteria and process for applying for a parental order (and/or any other appropriate legal status) in the English court.
  4. Legal status and protection in the event of legal difficulties or a dispute concerning a child born through overseas surrogacy.

International surrogacy cases

I am recognised as a leading UK expert in international and domestic surrogacy law.  I have dealt with numerous landmark and important English High Court surrogacy cases 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 commercial surrogacy in California for a woman following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

AB v CD, EF, GH and IJ [2018] EWHC 1590 (Fam) – a first-of-its-kind legal ruling involving an international surrogacy dispute following an Indian surrogacy arrangement, domestic violence, divorce, remarriage and creation of a blended family.

Re C [2013] EWHC 2408 (Fam) – acquisition of a parental order following a US (Californian) surrogacy arrangement and where the English High Court redefined its approach to the treatment of commercial payments in view of the UK public policy restriction against commercial surrogacy.

Re: IJ (a Child) [2011] EWHC 921 – acquisition of a parental order in the English High Court for British parents whose surrogate born child was born stateless and parentless in the Ukraine.  The case highlights the legal difficulties associated with foreign surrogacy and the importance of expert legal advice.

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.

Re X and Y (foreign surrogacy) [2008] EWHC 3030 (Fam) – being the first case in the UK to test the law for British parents following an international commercial surrogacy arrangement in the Ukraine.

Media and commentary

As demand for surrogacy soars, more countries are trying to ban it, featuring Louisa Ghevaert – The Economist (11 May 2017)

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour interview with Louisa Ghevaert on Indian Surrogacy Law Reform (20 September 2016)

Dispelling myths about surrogacy in the UK and the need for reform: report of the Surrogacy UK Working Group on surrogacy law reform – Family Law (23 November 2015)

UK citizens are the most likely in Europe to go abroad to find a surrogate mother, featuring Louisa Ghevaert – The Independent (15 March 2015)

BBC Radio 4 Today Programme–debate on whether surrogacy law should be changed with Louisa Ghevaert and Dr David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert , BBC Radio 4 (21 January 2011)

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour– surrogacy interview on the ethics of paying for surrogacy with Louisa Ghevaert, Barry Barlow-Drewitt and writer Julie Bindell, BBC Radio 4 (19 January 2011)