A consultation period on the Law Commission's proposed reforms to UK surrogacy law has begun. The Commission's proposals were published last week. 

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK and, rightly, there are no proposals for that to change. However, the Commission's proposals do aim to clarify what the intended parents can pay a surrogate by way of 'reasonable expenses', and close attention will need to be paid to how broad they suggest that the scope of 'reasonable expenses' should be.

The most substantial and controversial change put forward is to allow the intended parents to acquire legal parenthood from the surrogate immediately on the birth of the baby, unless the surrogate objects. At present, the intended parents must wait for six weeks after the birth, at which point they then have to go through the process of making a court application for legal parenthood to be transferred. That process is cumbersome, but there is a very real danger that the proposed reforms will tip the balance too far in favour of intended parents and leave surrogates open to exploitation without sufficient legal protection. How this change is implemented, and what safeguards are to be put in place to protect surrogates, will be a key part of the consultation process. 

Once the consultation period ends, the Commission will present its final recommendations to parliament in 2021. It remains to be seen whether the details of those recommendations are fair and workable.