London, UK: A father, whose ex-partner forged his signature to conceive a child via an IVF clinic, said he was “absolutely floored” when he found out. The man, who can only be identified as ARB, sued IVF Hammersmith for damages for the cost of bringing up the girl.
Although judges found the clinic was in breach of contract, they rejected his claim for damages.
The clinic said it had “reinforced” its procedures since then “to ensure such a situation could not occur again”.
The couple had a son together through IVF at the clinic in 2008, because, ARB said, they had “this romanticised idea” that a child would improve the relationship which “wasn’t strong”.
Following the procedure, a number of embryos were frozen and the couple signed agreements annually for these to remain in storage.
In 2010, the couple broke up.
After the split, the woman, known as R, provided the clinic with a “consent to thaw” form, forged with ARB’s signature, resulting in successful conception, and the birth of a daughter.
“Out of the blue, she sent me a text message saying she was pregnant. I was absolutely floored,” said ARB, who has since married his new partner.
The High Court in 2017 ruled against ARB’s claim for damages because of a legal precedent in which the The House of Lords – now the Supreme Court – said that healthy children are always “a blessing”.
Court of Appeal judge Lady Justice Nicola Davies DBE backed this view in December 2018, writing in her judgment that it was “morally unacceptable to regard a child as a financial liability”.
However, Lady Justice also agreed with the High Court that the clinic had failed in its obligation to obtain ARB’s “informed consent to the procedure”.
IVF Hammersmith said: “This has been a distressing case and we are deeply saddened by the effect it has had on all concerned.
“In this case as in all others, we adhered to the highest industry standards and we met all obligations as set out by the governing body at the time.
“Since then, we have reinforced our procedures to go above and beyond the industry standard to ensure such a situation could not occur again.”
Industry regulator the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said: “The deception in this case is very unusual.”
It added that it “strengthened” its guidance in 2016 to “make it clear to clinics the steps they should take to ensure they do not fall victim to individuals who are determined to mislead them”.
ARB said: “A great injustice has been inflicted upon us, for myself and my family and the wellbeing of my family.
“We needed to have that event exposed and a light shone upon it in order to find some measure of emotional closure around these tumultuous events.”
He added he was in discussion with his legal team “about the next move”.