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Father sues clinic for letting ex get pregnant secretly with frozen embryo

24 July 2017
Appeared in BioNews 910

A father is suing a London fertility clinic for £1 million after his ex-partner secretly conceived his baby via IVF following their split.

The UK High Court heard on 19 June 2017 that his former partner had tricked doctors into helping her conceive using a frozen embryo that had been fertilised with his sperm prior to their separation, resulting in their six-year-old daughter.

He is suing the clinic for breach of contract, and seeking monetary damages to cover the costs of raising his child, in addition to covering legal fees.

The embryo transfer took place in October 2010, five months after the 'volatile and rancorous' relationship broke down, at IVF Hammersmith based in Harley Street, London.

The couple had previously conceived a son, now eight-years-old, using IVF and had frozen further embryos for possible future IVF cycles after signing an 'agreement for cryopreservation' back in 2008.

Michael Mylonas QC, representing the father, explained that the clinic performed the procedure in breach of a safeguard clause stating that 'in the event of divorce or separation, the IVF unit will only thaw or replace embryos if both [parents] give written consent'. 

Mylonas added that the 'mother had forged the claimant's signature in order to procure the thawing of one of their embryos', thus fraudulently misleading the clinic as to believe they had acquired sufficient permissions for such a procedure.

Dr Audrey Giles, a handwriting expert, supported the claimant's account of events, telling the court she was '99 percent sure' that the father's signature had been traced and forged on the 'consent to thaw' paperwork.

Jeremy Hyam QC, representing IVF Hammersmith, argued that the clinic 'did not expect - nor are [they] to be faulted for not expecting - duplicity of this nature', and consequently should not be expected to offer any compensation to the father. 

The fertility medics involved in the procedure claim they were only made aware of the couple's separation 18 months after the child had been born. In addition, the father's 'informed written consent' had been correctly obtained on a number of documents in earlier meetings the father had attended throughout the IVF process.

The mother denies any forgery or action without the father's approval. She is the subject of a separate claim brought by the clinic.

The hearing continues.

16 September 2019 - by James Lawford Davies and Eleri Williams 
Happily fraud, dishonesty and forgery are seldom features of IVF treatment. But on rare occasions (and for widely differing reasons), some patients are not wholly transparent or honest in their engagement with clinics...
7 January 2019 - by Jen Willows 
A man whose ex-partner forged his signature on consent papers to become pregnant using their frozen embryos after they had split up has lost his appeal for damages...
8 May 2018 - by Jen Willows 
A German man has been told that he must pay child support for his son, who was born after his ex-wife forged his signature to become pregnant using their frozen embryos...
9 October 2017 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A man has lost his claim for damages against a London IVF clinic for failing to obtain his consent for the use of embryos created with his former partner...
21 November 2016 - by Sarah Pritchard 
An appeal court in Missouri has ruled that a divorced couple's frozen embryos should be treated as marital property and not as people, under the state's divorce laws...
3 October 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A widow has been allowed by the High Court to keep embryos created with her late husband in storage for ten years...
23 November 2015 - by Dr Julia Hill 
A San Francisco judge has ruled that the frozen embryos of a divorced couple should be destroyed, despite the protests of the ex-wife...
17 August 2015 - by Ruth Retassie 
A court case has begun involving a man's claim against a US fertility clinic and his ex-girlfriend, who allegedly procured vials of his sperm without his permission to conceive a child...
28 May 2014 - by Patricia Cassidy 
An Illinois county court has granted a woman control over embryos created with her ex-boyfriend's sperm, despite his objection to their use....
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