The Law Commission has this week announced that it will be conducting a full review of the law relating to surrogacy arrangements as part of its 13th Programme of Law Reform.

Surrogacy describes a situation where a woman bears a child on behalf of another person or people. Historically this has tended to be for reasons of health or infertility, although in recent years it has also become an increasingly popular option for gay couples, as same-sex relationships have become increasingly recognised, accepted and finally legitimised in society and the law.

The current laws on surrogacy are woefully out of date and were created in a completely different social and political landscape. As a result the court frequently struggles to make the necessary orders (which are almost inevitably in the best interests of the children concerned) in a way that is not inconsistent with the inflexible language of the existing statute. There are also some rules that seem inexplicable by modern standards, such as the prohibition on single people obtaining a parental order, and a need for a proper policy debate about whether commercial surrogacies should be allowed in this country.