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Labassee v. France

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Labassee v. France

European Court of Human Rights

Labassee v. France, Application no 65941/11, Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights, 26 June 2014

26 June 2014

Instrument(s) Cited:
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR): Article 8 (Right to respect for family and private life)

Case Summary:

The complainants are two parents and their daughter. The first two complainants – Mr and Mrs Labassee – are French citizens who concluded an international surrogacy agreement with a woman from Minnesota in the United States, where such agreements are recognised by law. The surrogate was implanted with an embryo conceived using donor egg cell and sperm from Mr Labassee as part of an in vitro fertilisation treatment and gave birth to the third complainant in 2001 in the United States. The child was issued a birth certificate that included Mr and Mrs Labassee as her parents. On the complainants’ return to France, the French authorities refused to issue a birth certificate that recognises Mr and Mrs Labassee as parents of the child, meaning that the child could not acquire French nationality. The refusal was made on the grounds of public policy because surrogacy agreements are not recognised by French law. The complainants asked the European Court to review the decision’s compatibility with the right to respect for private and family life.

Issue and resolution:
Refusal of birth certificate. The Court found unanimously that the French authorities’ refusal violated the child’s right to family life under the European Convention.

Court reasoning:
The Court based its decision on the right of the child, rather than the right of the parents. Examining the rights of the parents, the Court considered that the effects of the French authorities’ decision were not such that caused excessive disruption to their family life so as to be in violation of their human rights.

However, in relation to the right of the child, the Court decided that the refusal to issue a birth certificate constituted a violation of her right to respect of her private life.The right to private life means that everyone has the right to establish their identity, including parentage. The Court also mentioned that intervening with that right in the manner of the present case raises a serious question on the compatibility with the best interests principle which requires that, in all decisions concerning children, the best interests of the child are a primary consideration.

The French government has indicated that it will not seize the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to review this decision, it remains to be seen what impact, if any, this development will have on French law in this area.

See also Mennesson v. France.

Link to Full Judgment:

This case summary is provided by the Child Rights International Network for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.