High Court Refuses to Authorise Collection of Gametes from Dying Student

16th February 2023 By

Is it right for gametes – sperm or eggs – to be collected from dying people who can make no choices for themselves so that their genetic legacy can live on after they are gone? The High Court grappled with that issue in a desperately sad case.

The case concerned a university student who was being sustained on life support following a catastrophic stroke. He was unconscious and there was virtually no prospect of him surviving. The tragedy prompted his parents to make an emergency application for permission to retrieve some of his sperm so that it could be frozen and subsequently used in the conception of a child or children.

His girlfriend was said to have expressed a desire to carry his child and his parents were more than willing to raise any child born following his death. His father testified that he was very family-focused and had consistently spoken from an early age of his wish to become a father. He had kept his own toys, and even his junior golf clubs, with a view to giving them to his own children one day.

Ruling on the matter, the Court recognised the intensity of his parents’ suffering and the strength of their views that the proposed procedure would accord with his own wishes were he able to express them. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority had opposed the parents’ application, but the NHS trust that bore responsibility for his care had taken a neutral stance.

Rejecting the application, the Court noted that he had made no advance decision to authorise the proposed procedure. His past expressions of desire to be a parent were not relevant to the issue before the Court in that it was one thing to have a consistent and heartfelt wish to be a living, caring father, but quite another to have one’s sperm collected and stored when unconscious and dying. There was no evidence that he would have chosen that course for himself.

Ruling that it would not be in his best interests to authorise the proposed procedure, the Court noted that it would be invasive, both in physical and privacy terms. It could not be concluded that the declarations sought by his parents would accord with his wishes, values or beliefs. The Court was informed of his death after delivering its decision and expressed its condolences to his parents.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Award That Requires Borrowing Made Into Court Order

17th May, 2024 By

Disagreements between separating couples all too often result in litigation that substantially reduces the assets available to them, as was illustrated by a case that recently reached the High Court. At issue was whether awards made by arbitrators in financial remedy proceedings can be made into court orders even if that would require one of the parties to borrow money. The couple had previously had a relationship lasting a few years before resuming their relationship in 2015. They had two children before separating again in 2019. Following their separation, the...

Inheritance Disputes – Costs Risks Can Be Reduced

15th May, 2024 By

Arguments about what someone promised before their death can lead to significant legal costs. However, if faced with a claim against the estate, there may be steps the beneficiaries or executors can take to reduce the risks, as a recent High Court case illustrated. A man had left a farmhouse and agricultural land in Cornwall to his wife, with whom he had also jointly owned a neighbouring area of land. After his death, one of the couple's daughters and her husband claimed that he had told them he wanted them...

Share Rounding Error Does Not Prevent CGT Relief

13th May, 2024 By

There are often very specific rules that must be complied with in order to claim tax reliefs, but if a small mistake arises, the courts may be able to provide assistance. In a recent case, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that an investor was entitled to Entrepreneurs' Relief on the disposal of his shares in a company, despite owning one share fewer than he needed to qualify for it. The investor had agreed to purchase 5 per cent of the shares in the company for £500,000. He wished to own...

Wife Entitled to Maintenance Until Sale of Family Home

10th May, 2024 By

When divorcing couples disagree on how assets should be divided, the courts will seek to arrive at a fair outcome for both parties. In deciding how the proceeds of sale of a former couple's home should be apportioned, the Family Court agreed with the wife that she should receive maintenance payments until the sale took place. The couple had married in 2006. Following a brief separation, they had reconciled for two years before finally separating in 2022. The husband and wife both contended that they should be entitled to about...