Singapore’s highest court recognises ‘genetic affinity’

family life

The case concerned a couple in the Asian city-state who underwent in vitro fertility treatment. This resulted in the birth of a girl, the mother’s apparent second child.

However, the parents began to notice that the baby didn’t look especially like them and a had a different hair colour and skin tone.They returned to the hospital and asked for a DNA test. This shockingly revealed that the new baby was related only to the mother. The hospital had  accidentally used sperm from an anonymous donor rather than her husband to fertilise the mother’s ovum.

Unsuprisingly the couple sued the fertility clinic, seeking damages including the cost of bringing the child up to the age of 21. Their claim eventually reached the country’s Supreme Court last month.

Justices there said no to the couple’s claim for reimbursement of the cost of bringing up the baby. They believed that doing so would send a damaging message to the chld when she grew up: namely that she was not valued and that she was a mistake that requireed compensation.

However, the Supreme Court did recognise that the couple had experienced real harm, but one that fell somewhat outside the boundaries of current Singaporean law. In an innovative ruling, they therefore created a brand new category of legal loss ChannelNews Asia reports – that of ‘genetic affinity’. The fertlity clinic had violated the couple’s natural right to this, the Justices declared.

The issue was then remitted to the Singaporean High Court for a ruling on the compensation for this loss. Judges there decided to award the couple a sum equivalent to 30 per cent of the cost of bringing up the child, despite the Supreme Court’s earlier decision on total compensation for the loss.

Photo of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, by Ibnul Karim Rupen via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Paul - April 7, 2017 at 1:45pm

How awful. Why only 30% ?
Thats rediculous. The clinic are at least 100% responsible for the blunder. Only 50% of the child actually belongs to that couple. They should persue the ‘doner’ for child maintainance. Let him take it up with the clinic. Frankenstein science always rewriting the rule book. Poor child is all I can say.

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