Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Making surrogacy laws that work for the parents, the surrogate and, most importantly, the child.

Read the news story announcing the project launch

The problem

Becoming a parent is the greatest day in many people’s lives.  But sometimes surrogacy can be the only way for people to have children who have a genetic link to them.

It is where a woman – the surrogate –  bears a child on behalf of someone else or a couple, who then intend to become the child’s parents.

As society changes, surrogacy is becoming more common – the number of children born this way could be 10 times higher than it was a decade ago.

In the UK surrogacy is governed by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and certain provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

But there are significant problems with the law. The intended parents of a surrogate child can’t make medical decisions about the child until they have a parental order granted, which cannot be done until six weeks after birth. And the regulation of surrogacy needs improving, so standards can be monitored and kept high.

The project

This project came out of our 13th Programme of Law Reform. In our open public consultation surrogacy received the most support of those projects which form part of the Programme, with over 340 people and groups saying the law was not fit for purpose.

The project will consider the legal parentage of children born via surrogacy, the regulation of surrogacy more widely, and the international context of surrogacy.

It will take account of the rights of all involved, including the question of a child’s right to access information about their origin and the prevention of exploitation of children and adults.

Next steps

The project is expected to last three years. We anticipate publishing a consultation paper by spring 2019.


Project details

Area of law

Property, family and trust law


Professor Nicholas Hopkins