The Experts’ Group on the Parentage/Surrogacy Project of the Hage Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) has issued its Final Report on The feasibility of one or more private international law instruments on legal parentage on 1 November 2022.
The conclusions of the report are as follows:
The Group agreed on the desirability of, and urgent need for, further work by the HCCH in the form of a binding PIL instrument on legal parentage in general (a Convention) and a binding PIL instrument on legal parentage established as a result of an ISA specifically (a Protocol).
The conclusions of the Group with respect to the feasibility of some of the key elements of a Convention and a Protocol are set out in boxes throughout (and annexed to) this Report.
The Group concluded on the general feasibility of developing a Convention dealing with the recognition by operation of law of foreign judicial decisions on the establishment and contestation of legal parentage.
The Group also concluded on the general feasibility of rules on recognition by operation of law of legal parentage as a result of an ISA established by judicial decision in a Protocol. Feasibility will depend in particular on how safeguards / standards are addressed.
Owing to the particularly complex and sensitive nature of the topic, the Group noted some key feasibility challenges going forward, which include:
-For a Convention, whether or not to include:
⇒ domestic adoption;
⇒ rules on uniform applicable law for the establishment of legal parentage; and
⇒ rules on public documents.
-For a Protocol, the way to address safeguards / standards.
-For both instruments, scope issues related to legal parentage established as a result of a domestic surrogacy arrangements and / or ART involving a third-party individual (donor) and legal parentage established by domestic adoptions following a surrogacy arrangement.
-Some experts agreed on the feasibility of advancing work on only one instrument, while others did not think that advancing work on one instrument without the other would be feasible.
While different elements to be included in a Convention and / or a Protocol, when taken individually, seemed to be feasible, this assessment might change depending on decisions taken on other elements. For example:
-For some experts, any instrument would only be attractive to States if it also addressed legal parentage established without a judicial decision, given that, in the majority of cases, legal parentage is established by operation of law or following an act. For other experts, this did not seem a key issue and / or those experts questioned the feasibility of agreeing rules on legal parentage without a judicial decision in an instrument.
-Although the Group agreed on the need for safeguards / standards in a possible Protocol, experts had different views as to which safeguards / standards should be included and how they should feature. For many experts, a Protocol would only be feasible if it included uniform safeguards / standards included directly in a Protocol, some of which featuring as conditions for recognition, others as grounds for refusal. For some experts, a Protocol would rather be feasible if it included State-specific safeguards / standards indirectly in a Protocol with a declaration mechanism and grounds for refusal.
The Group finally recommends the establishment of a Working Group to explore the provisions on a possible convention and protocol.