The recent milestone event of a baby being born with the genes of three different parents was an amazing medical development for those suffering from hereditary diseases but the wider consequences of three-person IVF treatments have caused controversy worldwide.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved ‘mitochondrial donation’ at UK fertility clinics on 15th December 2016. The process entails transferring the nucleus of a fertilised embryo into the shell of another woman’s egg. This technique was used by an American medical team to birth the first 3-Person IVF baby in Mexico and successfully ensured that the baby did not suffer from the same genetic disorder as his mother.
No children have been born out of three-person IVF in the UK as of yet but it is permitted for couples with mitochondrial diseases such as diabetes, Leigh syndrome and epilepsy. On approval of this procedure in 2015, MPs saw the opportunity for ‘real hope’ for families hoping to conceive. Others, however, have noted the complexities arising out of a child with three-person genetic makeup.
Initially three-person IVF seems to provide an opportunity for those in relationships consisting of three people (colloquially named ‘thruples’) would be able to have a child that is genetically of the three parents – providing that a male was party to the relationship.
In England and Wales a three-parent household is possible but not necessarily viable, legally. Whilst more than two people can have parental responsibility for a child, the law only allows a child to have two legal parents.
Canada is home to the only child with three legal parents on its birth certificate. A lesbian couple wanted to ensure that the sperm donor would be an involved father and not just a donor – leading them to request a new form for parental rights with space for four parents. Vancouver lawyer, Barbara Findlay, said that now it is not just biology and genetic connections that determine a child’s parents but the ‘intention of the parents contributing to the creation of the child, and intend to raise the child’.
This is similar to the requirements of obtaining parental orders in surrogacy arrangements and emphasises that the development of what constitutes a parent may develop even further upon three-person IVF practices reaching the mainstream. Canada’s approach to three parent babies may affect the UK’s approach to the same – widening the grounds for what we consider to be a ‘nuclear’ family.
A common reason for people’s desire to give birth, engage in surrogacy arrangements or undertake IVF treatments is the desire to have children with their own genetic makeup. It is important to note that mitochondrial DNA represents less than 0.054 % of the total DNA of the child. As the donated mitochondrial DNA is not part of the nuclear DNA, it will not determine personal characteristics and traits such as personality, hair and eye-colour.
The above is positive in that, if two parents wish to enter into a three-person IVF arrangement, the child will resemble the two intended parents. However for the same reason three parents who wish to have a child with all of their genetic makeup may feel distanced from their relation to the child due to a lack of resemblance.
Pertinent to the above, it seems that the benefits of three-person IVF may be limited to the avoidance of mitochondrial disease as it serves little alternative purpose.
Whilst the legalisation of three-person IVF and mitochondrial donation in the UK is limited to the avoidance of disease, similar practices were used in Ukraine to help a couple struggling with fertility.
A pronuclear transfer was used where the mother’s egg was fertilised with her partner’s sperm and then transferred into an egg take from a donor. As described above, the majority of the child’s genetic makeup is that of her legal parents but a small-percentage of the genetics of the egg-donor are inevitable. Controversially there was no instance of mitochondrial disease in this matter and it was instead used to combat infertility – widening the grounds for three-person IVF.
The last few years have been filled with newspaper headlines, articles in scientific journals and legal commentary pondering the implications of this treatment. With the advance of technology in the fertility field we are constantly encroaching on unmarked territory – forming the majority of arguments for and against three-person IVF on hypothesised situations due to the lack of case-law in this area.
As a three-person child has not been born in England and Wales as of yet the classification for applicants for this procedure is unknown but we can assume that it will be limited to reducing the risk of mitochondrial disease.
Whilst the idea of a three-person baby has sparked interest in the polyamorous community, England and Wales would need to follow Canada in allowing for three person parental status to ensure that parties would not be vulnerable to legal restrictions. Such legal protections will also be absolutely crucial for the child-knowing who their parents are and what rights they have.
This procedure undeniably reflects the future of IVF. The case in Ukraine especially provides hope for those struggling with infertility who desire a child of their own. We can only hope that, if this proves to be the most effective way to battle infertility, England and Wales pushes this procedure to ensure everyone has the right to a child.
We at Forming Families want to support all individuals in realising their dreams of becoming parents. We offer legal advice on surrogacy arrangements, both domestic and international, adoption and fertility law. Our experienced team of immigration and family lawyers know the struggles that many people go through, and offer help in a sensitive and pro active way.
London Legal Walk 2017
Bishop & Sewell will be entering a team again this year for the London Legal Walk 2017, a 10km walk around Central London in support of The London Legal Support Trust.
Our team will be walking with the Lord Chief Justice and thousands of lawyers, colleagues and friends to raise funds to support Law Centres and pro bono agencies in and around London.
This iconic 10km walk is being held on Monday 22nd May 2017 and is the largest fundraising event in the legal calendar – we hope to see some of you there!
Click here for Bishop & Sewell fundraising page.ALEP 10th Anniversary Conference
The ALEP 10th Anniversary Conference was held on 23rd March 2017 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in Portland Place.
Mark Chick spoke to delegates together with Tom Jefferies of Landmark Chambers on the subject of ‘Getting the Notice Right.’ ALEP is the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners and seeks to promote excellence in leasehold enfranchisement. The conference was attended by over 200 delegates who were representatives of specialist firms working in this area.Advice to flat owners
http://www.bishopandsewell.co.uk/content/wp-admin/post.php?post=2304&action=edit#Leasehold experts Stuart Merrison, Chris Macartney and Mark Chick were in Hackney on Monday meeting leaseholders and answering questions about service charges, lease extension and freehold matters.
They will be back there again on Monday 6th March 2017 to answer questions about buying your freehold.
If you would like to ask a question about a leasehold matter then contact our experts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 020 7631 4141.Bishop & Sewell strengthens Leasehold Enfranchisement Team
New Senior Associate Solicitor, Stephen Charnock, joins the firm in our Landlord & Tenant team.
Stephen specialises in Leasehold Enfranchisement and has more than 20 years’ experience in this complex area of law. Stephen dealt with some of the very first claims when the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act was enacted in 1993 introducing new enfranchisement rights for leaseholders of residential flats. He is a recognised expert and has acted in a number of leading cases decided in the appellate courts and tribunals and in hundreds of cases before valuation tribunals.
As a member of Bishop & Sewell’s Landlord & Tenant team, Stephen will continue to act for established landlords and a wide range of tenants, be they owner occupiers, investors or developers in contentious and non-contentious matters. His extensive experience in acting for landlords has given Stephen valuable insight and perspective when acting for tenants.
Stephen’s broader experience includes long residential leases, tenants’ rights of pre-emption, tenants’ right to manage, protected, secure, tied and market tenancies and estate management. He has advised landed London Estates including the Wellcome Trust’s South Kensington Estate, the Portman Estate and the Cadogan Estate.
Mark Chick, Partner, Landlord & Tenant at Bishop & Sewell commented:
“I am delighted that Stephen has joined the Landlord & Tenant team and his significant experience and expertise in Leasehold Enfranchisement complements our existing team and client base.”
Stephen’s recruitment follows on the back of a busy 2016 for Bishop & Sewell with five senior hires made last year: William Twidale (Partner – Litigation, Contentious Trusts), Philip Rutter (Partner – Family), David Little (Partner – Company Commercial), Jeremy Sivyer (Senior Corporate Consultant – Company Commercial) and Stephanie Thomas (Partner – Litigation & Head of International Law).
The firm also recently promoted Levent Chetinkaya (Residential Property) and Michael Kashis (Company Commercial) to Partner and Charlotte Archer (Residential Property) and Senal Patel (Commercial Property) to Associate Solicitor.
These new hires and promotions bring Bishop & Sewell’s team of solicitors to 32, whose full service remit runs across three core areas of Property, Commercial and Private Client.
View Stephen’s profile here.ALEP 10th Anniversary Dinner & Conference – 23 March 2017 – London
Members of Bishop & Sewell will be attending ALEP’s 10th Anniversary Dinner and 20th conference being held at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on 23rd March, 2017.
The conference includes an array of speakers renowned for their expertise in this niche sector. The evening will reflect on a decade of key decisions and factors that have influenced the sector – for better or for worse – and where the sector and wider property market might be in years to come, particularly in light of domestic politics and potential legislative review.
From humble beginnings as a networking group, ALEP has grown to an influential organisation of over 200 member firms, representing the very best professionals in the sector.
To book your place, visit ALEP 10th Anniversary Celebration.Help for Residents’ Associations from the FPRA
Running a successful private residents’ association is certainly not without its share of difficulties. While the directors of your association may have knowledge or expertise in certain areas, you will be all too aware that leasehold legislation is a complex area and expert advice and opinion can be costly and hard to come by.
A helpful resource is the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FPRA) which is a not-for-profit lease advice, support and lobbying organisation for private residential leaseholders, tenants’ and residents’ associations, Residential Management Companies and Flat Management Companies. It is the national voice of residents’ associations and is frequently consulted by government. In addition, it represents and understands the interests of leaseholders seeking to set up a tenants’ association, existing tenants’ associations (recognised or not) and residential management companies.
Mark Chick, Partner and Head of our Landlord & Tenant team here at Bishop & Sewell is an honorary consultant to the FPRA.
To learn more about the FPRA and/or to discuss Landlord & Tenant issues more widely, please email email@example.com.Members of PRAGMA
Bishop & Sewell have recently become members of PRAGMA, a leading international network of lawyers and consulting firms. PRAGMA provides a platform for our clients to access high quality legal professionals worldwide, with the cost-effectiveness and personalised service only independent, regional law firms provide.
PRAGMA was established in 2001 and has member firms in Europe, Asia, North and South America with currently 48 law offices in 17 countries.
PRAGMA’s head office is based in Brussels and operates according to a strict Quality Charter, delivering high quality services to individuals and companies through specialised and coordinated teams. The network services all major areas of Practice and Economic Sectors and you can find a list of member firms here.
To learn more about PRAGMA, visit their website.New Data Protection Rules
New rights, new responsibilities and new obligations are coming into force with the new Data Protection Rules due in May 2018.
The new law fundamentally affects the way everyone uses data to market, provide services and run businesses. Amongst other things it will require you to notify the Information Commissioner’s office and the person concerned in the event of a data breach within 72 hours, conduct a root and branch audit of your data processing and introduce Privacy Impact Assessments where appropriate, along with actions to facilitate the ‘right to be forgotten’.
All this will require considerable advanced preparation with the price of non-compliance, anything up to 2-4% of global turnover in fines, depending on how severe the data breach is and what efforts you made to comply with the law in the first place.
To learn more about the detail of this new legislation and/or business regulations more widely, please contact Andrew Humphrey.