Family Law Week reports that in a recent case before the High Court, permission was refused for the parents of a deceased daughter to export her frozen eggs to the USA for fertilisation and implanting in the deceased’s mother.

The young woman’s eggs had been removed and frozen unfertilised, after she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. This step had initially been taken in order to preserve her chances of giving birth should she survive the illness, but be rendered infertile by either the disease or the treatment she was about to undergo. The consent form signed by her, provided for the continued storage of her eggs in the event of her death “for later use”. In addition, the form specifically refused consent for the eggs to be allowed to perish in the event of her death.

After being advised that her condition was terminal, the woman allegedly told her mother that she wished for one or more of the eggs, after being fertilised by a sperm donor, to be implanted in her mother and the resulting child to be brought up by her parents.

After she died, the IVF fertility clinic where the eggs were stored, refused to fertilise the eggs by an anonymous sperm donor and thereafter implant them in her mother. The clinic’s reason for refusal was that the deceased had not signed the necessary consent forms for the eggs to be used in this way, following her death.

The woman’s parents subsequently found a treatment centre in the USA which was prepared to carry out the treatment. However, as she had not given specific consent for export or posthumous use, they applied to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s Statutory Approvals Committee to authorise the export of the eggs to the treatment centre in the USA for fertilisation and implantation in the deceased’s mother. This application was refused by the Committee, whereupon her parents brought judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

The parents argued that their daughter had signed a consent form for posthumous storage of her eggs; a form which also refused consent to destroy those eggs in the event of her death. The eggs could only be used for two purposes – research or fertilisation, and the deceased woman had expressly stated that she had chosen her mother to act as surrogate. As she herself had no partner at that time, she knew that a sperm donor would be necessary. Moreover, she had been unaware that she had to sign another form to authorise her precise wishes. In the absence of that knowledge, the parents stated, their daughter’s clearly expressed wishes should not be thwarted for want of the relevant paperwork.

The parents’ case was, however, rejected by Mr. Justice Ouseley, who considered that there was insufficient evidence to enable him to conclude that the woman had indeed wanted her mother to act as surrogate after her death; that the proposed use of the eggs had not been demonstrated to be exactly what she had wished for.

Moreover, the judge did not agree that the HFEA Committee was allowing a lack of relevant paperwork to stand in the way of the deceased’s clear wishes. In his opinion, her failure to sign the relevant forms was not the main issue in this case. Rather, the reason why it could not succeed was because many important issues had neither been considered nor resolved prior to her death. Specifically, there was an absence of evidence to show that she had in fact considered or agreed to her eggs being exported; had taken any steps to research sperm donors or would have consented to the use of an anonymous sperm donor selected by her parents, or had given proper consideration to the legal and other implications of her mother acting as surrogate.

In the judge’s view, there had been sufficient time between the woman being advised that she was terminally ill and her death, for her to obtain full information and issue clear instructions about her wishes. He also observed that the form which she had signed, referred to the existence of a further form which would have provided the consent required, to proceed in the way sought by her parents.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

Today I had my free initial consultation with partner Henry Brookman over the phone. He had a clear understanding of my situation based on the info I provided in advance and provided me with sound advice and guidance to move forward. Many thanks.

Aug 2022   H. J.

Really appreciated Brookman's advice and support. Most lawyers charge extortionate fees just for an initial conversation but not Henry. Thanks for all your advice and time.

Jul 2022   Chloé

I had a consultation with the partner Henry Brookman. I can absolutely recommend him, he seemed knowledgeable, up to date and patient. I have found him to be straightforward in the answers he gives and down to earth. 100% recommended.

Jun 2022   Michael P

I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Henry Brookman. His advice came in promptly when solicited, and was excellent. He is a thoughtful and very professional lawyer. He understood perfectly well the issue I presented him with, and gave me excellent advice in a family law related matter.

May 2022   Philip Hands

From my first contact with the firm I was treated courteously and promptly. I was offered a pro bono meeting shortly after making contact. Mr Brookman is clearly a very experienced professional and in our meeting he gave me some well considered and objective advice about my rather complicated situation which spans more than one jurisdiction.

May 2022   Julian Peachey

I had an initial consultation with Henry Brookman regarding prenuptial agreements and found him to be very helpful and knowledgeable.

Mar 2022   Simon Brooks

I had a free telephone consultation yesterday with Gavin Yeung. He could not have been more helpful and reassuring as he calmly and patiently worked through my situation to provide me with clarity and piece of mind at a time it was really needed and emotions are running high.

Mar 2022   'K M'

I spoke with Aziz at Brookman Solicitors on the phone for an initial consultation and he is one of the friendliest lawyers I have met. He is clearly very experienced as he patiently explained me all the concepts and processes which are quite daunting for someone in my situation, and then focused on the actual questions I wanted to ask... I would highly recommend Aziz and Brookman Solicitors.

Feb 2022   'R'

I am grateful for Henry Brookman and his team for support they provided to me during very frustrating time of divorce. They respond promptly to any request. I felt more confident after I started the process with them. Henry listened carefully to me and took quick actions on my case. I highly recommend this team of real professionals even for non-UK citizens.

Feb 2022   Sezim Beksultanova

I had online consultation with the partner Henry Brookman today. I was very happy with the service. I found him to be very insightful, knowledgeable and provided sound advice, as well as being kind and patient. It was a very comfortable discussion and he sent an email detailing our discussion very quickly discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Jan 2022   Shirley Christopher

We spoke at length and at no point felt like he was rushing us and we felt very comfortable. After our discussion we were also quickly sent an email detailing everything we were discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Dec 2021   Tina

I was fortunate to spend an hour running through a few questions with Natasha Slabas. She was quick to grasp the points raised and proposed a sensible way forward. Would recommend

Dec 2021   Nick Powell

I cannot praise the professionalism and courtesy too highly. The advice given in a very complex divorce matter, was clear, concise, enlightening and inspiring.

Nov 2021   Mary Barn

I contacted Henry Brookman because of the complex international aspect of my divorce and I’m very glad I did... Henry took his time explaining all the pro’s and contra’s... I now have a much clearer view over the situation and feel more confident going forward. I’m very grateful for the excellent advice I’ve received and not feeling rushed during the meeting.

Nov 2021   'A B'

Talitha offers sound advice, asks the right questions and advises you with what you need to know not just what you want to hear. I have no hesitation in recommending her services.

Sep 2021   Anu Vidyarthi

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470