Law Commissions:

New regulation for UK surrogacy

The Law Commissions have recommended the introduction of a new regulated framework for surrogacy in the UK

A new pathway to parenthood

The new regulated framework will for the first time enable UK intended parents be recorded on their child’s birth certificate without the need for a post-birth court process.

For this to apply, surrogacy teams must have their arrangement approved by a Regulated Surrogacy Organisation licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, must have the treatment and birth in the UK, and must comply with required pre-conception safeguards (including screening, a written surrogacy agreement, independent legal advice and implications counselling).

Surrogates will retain the right to change their mind during the pregnancy or after the birth of the child.  If consent to parenthood is withdrawn, the court will decide who the parents should be via a post-birth parental order application.

Our view on the recommendations

We support intended parents being recognised as legal parents from birth, and the proposed pre-conception safeguards

Intended parents should be recognised as their child’s legal parents from birth. This reflects what everyone intends in a surrogacy arrangement and will give children immediate legal security.

We also support the proposed pre-conception safeguards, which are all sensible steps to ensure surrogacy is managed ethically, reflecting Brilliant Beginnings’ own UK surrogacy pathway.

We do not agree that a UK surrogate should be able to claim parenthood after the birth 

In circumstances where a surrogate has had counselling, legal advice and entered into a written surrogacy agreement overseen by a Regulated Surrogacy Organisation, we do not think she should have the right to change her mind.

Although we understand the concern behind this, it reflects poor understanding of surrogacy, perpetuating the myth that consent to being a surrogate is fragile and that surrogates are mothers of the children they carry. Without exception, Brilliant Beginnings surrogates told us they knew their own minds in making a commitment to carry a child who was never theirs, and that there were no circumstances in which they should be able to claim parenthood if they enter into a surrogacy arrangement with fully-informed consent. One said it would be like giving her the right not to give back a child she had babysat for.

Their experience is borne out by the evidence. Changes of heart by surrogates are almost unheard of in practice, and will be even less likely with the protective safeguards recommended, which help ensure informed consent.  However, the lack of legal certainty in the UK is one of the biggest factors driving UK parents abroad so the assurance of parenthood is important.

Regulated Surrogacy Organisations and a National Surrogacy Register


The Law Commissions have recommended that UK surrogacy organisations remain non-profit and be licensed and regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Their role will be key in overseeing the new pathway to parenthood and ensuring that the required pre-conception safeguards are met.

RSOs will also be responsible for providing information to a new National Surrogacy Register held by the HFEA, helping to ensure that information about children’s biological and gestational origins are retained for them to access in adulthood if they wish.

Our view on the recommendations

We agree that UK surrogacy organisations should be regulated by the HFEA

Regulation will help maintain standards and confidence in UK surrogacy.  However, it is important to emphasise that the UK’s existing surrogacy organisations have self-regulated well until now, and that regulation is not being proposed because of concern about existing practice.  Regulation should therefore be light-touch and should be workable for organisations which operate on a non-profit basis. It should also be shaped by the expertise and experience of the UK’s current surrogacy organisations.

We agree with the creation of a National Surrogacy Register

Children born through surrogacy deserve openness and transparency about they way they were born, and information should be collected and retained so that they can access it in the future (possibly many decades after their births) if they wish to do so.

Parental orders to remain for other UK surrogacy cases


The Law Commissions have recommended that the post-birth parental order court process remain the legal path for children conceived through UK surrogacy where:

  • a Regulated Surrogacy Organisation was not involved,
  • the pathway criteria were not met – for example because the required pre-conception safeguards were not followed, payments were agreed outside the permitted framework or the fertility treatment took place overseas, or
  • the surrogate changes her mind.

The court process and criteria will remain the same as is the case now, although the court will have a new power to waive the consent of the surrogate if doing so is in the child’s best interests. Non-biological parents will remain excluded.

Our view on the recommendations

We think the current parental order system needs reforming


The whole system of reassigning parenthood after the birth is deeply flawed, too late in the surrogacy process and based on criteria designed in the 1990s when surrogacy was poorly understood.  The parental order process and criteria have been repeatedly criticised by the family court for their failure to safeguard the welfare of child and their incompatibility with human rights. Some families (particularly single women conceiving with donor eggs) also remain excluded.

If a court process for transferring parenthood is to remain in any form, we think it needs to be made fit for the 21st century. Specifically, the criteria should be modernised to focus on intention, consent and the child’s best interests (removing artificial deadlines, restrictions, the need for a biological connection and relationship status criteria).

The legal process should also be brought forward, enabling the court to make an order before the child is born to eliminate the period during which any child’s parentage is unresolved.

Other Law Commission proposals

No significant change for international surrogacy

The Law Commissions propose to retain parental orders and the existing immigration rules for children born through surrogacy overseas

Learn more

Tightening up the rules on what UK surrogates are paid

The Law Commissions have proposed new categories of permitted payments, and a new approach to itemising costs 

Learn more

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