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Life Sciences & Genetics

Coram is a leading family law chambers providing representation and advice to clients in London and across England and Wales.

Matt Ridley, the author of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species wrote in 1999: “In just a few short years we will have moved. from knowing almost nothing about our genes to knowing everything. I genuinely believe that we are living through the greatest intellectual moment in history. Bar none.”

Issues of law raised by advances in life sciences:

The field of family law has generated some of the most compelling cases in life sciences law in recent years. From IVF with the sperm of deceased parents via the identification of genetic traits and conditions in families to three-person embryos and innovative technologies that challenge the very fabric of our societal perceptions. These cases require thoughtful and scientifically literate analysis, bespoke advice and specialist litigation. In addition, these often very complex cases carry with them a strong element of ethics, which forms a paramount consideration when assessing the varied risk of a case and which can underpin the most compelling submissions.

Coram members have acted in leading cases on surrogacy and assisted reproduction, and Chambers has carefully developed members’ expertise in life sciences law since 2014. We provide analysis and advice on the legal and ethical aspects of some of the most advanced biomedical innovations of our time, and offer a varied programme of seminars, training sessions and conferences in this area.

  • DM and LK [2016] EWHC 270 (Fam) – Dr Bianca Jackson
  • A & B (No 1 -Fact finding judgment) [2015] EWHC 1059 (Fam) – Dr Bianca Jackson
  • A & B (No 2 -Parental Order) [2015] EWHC 2080 (Fam) – Dr Bianca Jackson
  • A & Ors (Human Fertilisation And Embryology Act 2008) [2015] EWHC 2602 (Fam) – Ms Sarah Tyler

Issues of law raised by advances in genetic technology:

Human Rights Law

  • Article 8 rights;
  • Genetic information as familial information;
  • The right to know and the right not to know – and who has the right to know/store the genetic profile of a particular person;
  • Informational self-determination, confidentiality and privacy.


Family Law

  • Article 8 rights with respect to genetic modification, privacy, access to information about family relations;
  • The child’s right to an open future and modern genetics;
  • Access to advanced genetic technologies for assisted reproduction;
  • Paternity testing on existing DNA profiles;
  • Mitochondrial donation and other advanced assisted reproduction technologies.


Criminal Law

  • Forensic uses of genetic profiles and biobank information;
  • Secondary identification of family members through genetic profiles;
  • Predictive policing on the basis of genetics;
  • DNA engineering and crime scene reliability.


Public Law

  • Privacy, discrimination and public health;
  • Challenging medico-legal norms: the role of autonomy, confidentiality and privacy in protecting individual and family group right’s;
  • Access to innovative treatments and technologies – regulatory law in assisted reproduction and gene therapy.


Employment and Insurance Law

  • Discrimination and employment: genetic testing and employee protection;
  • Duties of care towards employees: genetic health, epigenetics and the work environment;
  • Access to insurance cover and genetic health.


Biotechnology Law

  • Cloning and infirmity;
  • DNA and privacy, consenting to research;
  • Possession and ownership of DNA – commercialisation aspects of genetics;
  • Incidental findings in genetics;
  • Enhancement and genetic engineering (CRISPR/Cas);
  • Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products, innovative health technologies.


The blank cheque:

  • Ulrich Beck wrote in 1993 in his work “Risk Society”:

“…The age of human genetics, the reality of which people are debating today, actually started long ago. One can say ‘no’ to progress, but that does not change its course at all. Progress is a blank cheque to be honoured beyond consent and legitimation…” Coram Chambers seek to be in the vanguard of those who work to develop the law to honour that blank cheque.



Our cross-border expertise in the family law aspects of life sciences law, regulation and biomedical ethics, puts us in an excellent position to advise clients in this sector and our Zurich and London offices provide the opportunity to meet face to face face with those requiring private client advice and mediation services.

We would be pleased to hear from you if you feel our expertise could assist you. Please do not hesitate to contact our Director of Clerking to have a conversation about your needs.

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