Landmark British Surrogacy Case – Court Approves More Than “Reasonable Expenses”

In a landmark case, a British high court judge has allowed a couple that paid their American surrogate more than “reasonable expenses” to keep the baby even though that type of payment is not allowed under British law. “The baby was allowed to enter Britain temporarily on a US passport, but would have been potentially stateless and parentless if the courts had not retrospectively approved the large payment.”

The British couple entered into the surrogacy agreement with their American surrogate only after several failed IVF attempts and miscarriages. They felt like they had “exhausted all our other options for having a family.”

In the United Kingdom, “no commercial arrangements are permitted to be made and it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother more than ‘reasonable expenses.’” However, there are not restrictions on what surrogates can be paid in the United States.

In his ruling, Mr. Justice Hedley stressed that this was clearly a commercial surrogacy arrangement but that the couple were “most careful and conscientious parents” and granted them full parental custody of the child.

The lawyers for the couple stated that “[t]he reason this case was published was because the judge wanted to highlight the legal and immigration difficulties faced by intended parents, and the poor public information which parents continue to fall foul of. Surrogacy is invariably a last option for those who have had a long and difficult battle with infertility.

International surrogacy arrangements are typically entered into with enormous care and thought. In Illinois, there are many checks built into the system – where this is a long established and successful process – including counseling, psychological testing and independent legal advice for everyone involved at the outset.”

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