Regulating International Surrogacy, ‘The Elephant in the Room’: Some Reflections on reform from a UK Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Downloads (Pure)


The UK legislative framework within which surrogacy is situated is a post-event framework where the legal structures act to regulate the family after the child has been born. Yet, even pre-event frameworks have been criticised with the UN Rapporteur denouncing international surrogacy involving commercial payments within pre-birth agreements as child trafficking. Arguments that international surrogacy arrangements (ISAs) are more complex to regulate than domestic surrogacy arrangements are given credence by the fact that there are competing legal structures to navigate in the form of differing national laws on family and immigration matters. Yet without regulation, it is arguable that the practice may become subject to the black market where the risks of exploitation and harm increase. This article will consider the findings from empirical research analysing a sample of ISA parental order case files involving UK couples, to consider what lessons can be drawn from these couples’ experiences as the Law Commissions begin their work to consider the efficacy of the UK’s present laws on surrogacy as part of the 13th programme of reform.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalChild and Family Law Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2019


  • International Surrogacy, Commercial Surrogacy, Parental Orders, Reasonable Expenses, Intended parents, Regulation

Cite this