Father loses appeal after ex-partner forges his signature to use embryos

A father (ARB) has recently lost his appeal for damages against an IVF clinic, after they treated his former girlfriend (R) with embryos created with his sperm without his consent.

The couple had conceived a son together through IVF, before separating in May 2010. Later that year, R then became pregnant using one of the frozen embryos which had been created during their first course of treatment, and gave birth to a girl, ‘E’ in 2011. Unbeknown to ARB, when seeking treatment, R forged ARB’s signature on the consent form she provided to the clinic.

Although the court accepted that the clinic was under a duty to not use the embryos without the consent of both parties, ARB was not entitled to compensation. The court said it was a matter of ‘public policy’ not to be compensated for the costs of raising a healthy child.

Lady Justice Davies said in her Judgment ‘whatever the circumstances of E’s birth, her father has accepted his share of responsibility for her upbringing; he wishes to treat her in the same way as his other children’.

Ensuring that both parties have provided their informed consent prior to IVF treatment is absolutely crucial. Although this type of fraud is very rare, this case highlights the importance of vigilance by clinics when it comes to ensuring that consent has been
properly provided.

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