Quintavalle v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: HL 28 Apr 2005

The parents of a boy suffering a serious genetic disorder sought IVF treament in which any embryo would be tested for its pre-implantation genetic status. Only an embryo capable of producing the stem cells necessary to cure the boy would be implanted. The claimant said that the Authority had no power to license such a procedure since it would not count as treatment of the mother within the Act.
Held: The Act required only that the procedures undertaken should be in the course of treating the mother. Such overall treatment would include many procedures not directly affecting her. This procedure would therefore be treatment in the context of the treament of the mother. ”Suitable’ is one of those adjectives which leaves its content to be determined entirely by context.’ The Warnock report from which the Act followed allowed explicitly that procedures would develop, and for example that sex selection might come to be considered in future: ‘The authority should be specifically charged with the responsibility to regulate and monitor practice in relation to those sensitive areas which raise fundamental ethical questions.’ It was therefore within the remit of the Authority to consider and therefore licence such procedures.


Lord Steyn, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood


[2005] UKHL 28, Times 29-Apr-2005, [2005] 1 WLR 1061, [2005] 2 AC 561


Bailii, House of Lords


Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 11


England and Wales


Appeal fromQuintavalle, Regina (on the Application of) v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority CA 16-May-2003
A licence was sought so that a couple could have a child who would be tissue typed to establish his suitability to provide an umbilical cord after his birth to help treat his future brother. A licence had been granted subject to conditions, and the . .
CitedRoyal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom v Department of Health and Social Security HL 2-Jan-1981
The court was asked whether nurses could properly involve themselves in a pregnancy termination procedure not known when the Act was passed, and in particular, whether a pregnancy was ‘terminated by a medical practitioner’, when it was carried out . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health ex parte Quintavalle (on behalf of Pro-Life Alliance) HL 13-Mar-2003
Court to seek and Apply Parliamentary Intention
The appellant challenged the practice of permitting cell nuclear replacement (CNR), saying it was either outside the scope of the Act, or was for a purpose which could not be licensed under the Act.
Held: The challenge failed. The court was to . .
CitedAHE Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust v A and Others (By Their Litigation Friend, the Official Solicitor), The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority B, B QBD 26-Feb-2003
An IVF treatment centre used sperm from one couple to fertilise eggs from another. This was discovered, and the unwilling donors sought a paternity declaration.
Held: Section 28 did not confer paternity. The mistake vitiated whatever consents . .

Cited by:

CitedIn Re R (Parental responsibility: IVF baby); D (A Child), Re HL 12-May-2005
The parents had received IVF treatment together, but had separated before the child was born. The mother resisted an application by the father for a declaration of paternity.
Held: The father’s appeal failed. The Act made statutory provision . .
CitedOffice of Fair Trading v Lloyds TSB Bank PlC and Others HL 31-Oct-2007
The House was asked whether the liability of a credit card company under the 1974 Act applied where the contract was performed abroad and subject to foreign law.
Held: The principle which disapplied an English statute in an extra-territorial . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 29 June 2022; Ref: scu.224490