Legal Information


Confidentiality and Consent

Your fertility treatment is totally confidential. By law, doctors are not permitted to divulge your information and circumstances to your doctor or any other person without your consent. You need to specify on the consent form the name of your Doctors and whether we can disclose identifying info to your future Doctors. The details of your treatment will not appear on the records of your future child.

We are required to disclose information to the HFEA or other licensed centres on your request under certain conditions:

  • in case of emergency,
  • in legal procedures and
  • if a complaint is made or genetic parental info is required.

Donor confidentiality

All patients undertaking assisted conception treatment must be registered at the Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authorisation (HFEA). The identity of an anonymous donor is not disclosed. However  new legislation in the UK  now allows children born from donated gametes to obtain information about their genetic parents when they are 18 years old or above.

Written Consent

Treatment cannot begin without the patient’s written consent. Every patient must ensure that they understand their fertility problem, the proposed treatment, their chances of success, implications and side effects, alternative treatment options and ethical and legal issues related to the fertility treatment. You can discuss these points with your partner or your family. A counselling service is available upon request and legal advice can be sought.

Written consent is needed for:

  • Using the patient’s gametes for treatment, donation or storage.
  • Creating embryos in vitro and storing them.
  • Using the patient’s gametes/embryos in the event of their death or mentally/physically incapacity.
  • Transferring the patient’s gametes/embryos to another clinic.

If we do not hold the relevant consents, the clinic cannot use or store the gametes/embryos and they will be allowed to perish.

The Law

Laws and regulations governing Assisted Conception Treatments varies between different countries.  The law governing this area is mostly found in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation  (HFEA) Act 1990.

UK legislation limits the number of embryos allowed to be transferred for IVF treatment to 2 embryos, and 3 if the patient is over 40 years old.

Embryo freezing is permissible in the UK, but is limited to a timeframe of 10 years, providing yearly costs are made.

The UK has passed new legislation abolishing the anonymity of gamete donors (egg, sperm and embryo donors).  Children born from donated gametes have the right to obtain identifying information about their genetic parents when they are 18 years old or above.

Mixing eggs, sperm or embryos for more than one person is forbidden in the UK.

Many countries, including the UK, prohibit sex selection. The performing of a treatment procedure or the use of sperm, eggs or embryos with the purpose of producing, or attempting to produce, a child of a particular sex is illegal unless it is dont to avoid the risk of genetic transmission of sex-linked diseases.

Donated sperm has to be stored for six months before it can be used in treatment in order to screen the donor for transmitted infections.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authorisation and the 1990 Act (other legal requirements)

In addition to licensing, the Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authorisation (HFEA) has several other responsibilities:

  • Publish a code of practice to guide centres about implementing the act.
  • Keep a confidential register about donors and recipients and treatments.
  • Give advice and information to licensed centres.
  • Give advice and information to couple seeking fertility treatment.

The welfare of the Child

Under the terms of the HFEA Act 1990, any fertility centre in the UK must take into account the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of a treatment, and of any other children who may be affected by the birth. In order to fulfill this obligation, clinics must assess each case before accepting them onto the programme. The following welfare of the child issues may be discussed with the patients:

  • The patient’s age and their likely future ability to look after or provide for a child’s need.
  • The patient’s commitment to having and bringing up a child, or children.
  • The patient’s economic status alongside their ability to meet the needs of any child or children born as a result of treatment.
  • The home environment, and the effect of the new baby or babies upon any existing children.
  • Mental and physical health of the patient and their partner.
  • The medical and family history of the couple and their families.
  • Criminal history of parents.
  • If the patient and have had any children removed from their custody and any history of child abuse.
  • The potential of the child’s need to know about their origin.

For more information, please refer to the HFEA website at: