Assisted reproduction: consent given for first child is valid consent for second child (High Court)
In P and others (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008)  EWHC 49 (Fam), Munby P held that the consent given by the birth mother’s partner, to being the parent of any child born by assisted reproduction for the first child born, is valid for any second child born by further assisted reproduction.
This judgment relates to various assisted reproduction cases with differing issues about consent forms and is part of the series starting with Re A and Others (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008)  EWHC 2602 (Fam) (see Legal update, Providing valid consent in assisted reproduction cases (High Court) (
). The issues in most of the cases could be resolved on the principles set out in Re A and others. However, in case U (paragraph 19), the issue was that for the treatment that led to the birth of the couple’s second child, the birth mother’s partner (X) had not signed the relevant consent form (Form PP). However, X had signed a Form PP before the treatment that led to the birth of the couple’s first child. X applied for a declaration of parentage on the basis that the consent given for the first cycle of treatment was effective for the second cycle.
Munby P held that the consent given in Form PP before the first cycle of treatment continued to operate for the subsequent cycle of treatment, notwithstanding the birth of the first child. Form PP provides for consent from a partner to being the parent of “any child born from my partner’s treatment“. This reflects the wording of section 44(1)(a) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which states that the consent is for “any child resulting from treatment provided“. Munby P noted that provided that the consent has not been withdrawn, there is no temporal limitation to the general expression referring to the “treatment” and the word “any” means “any”.
It is possible that this decision may in the future lead to disputes about whether a partner had or had not withdrawn their consent for subsequent cycles of treatment.