Lawyer in the news: Jeremy Ford, Cambridge Family Law Practice | Profile
Who? Jeremy Ford, Partner, Mediator and Arbitrator at Cambridge Family Law Practice.
Why is he in the news? Represented same-sex couple Sarah Osborne and Helen Arnold, who had a baby through IVF in 2014. Osborne had to adopt her child after a registrar incorrectly told her her name was not allowed on the certificate of birth because the document could only name a child. mother and their father. The High Court revoked the adoption order and annulled the original birth certificate.
Thoughts on the case: “Sarah and Helen intended to start a family with Helen carrying the child through an anonymous sperm donor. As the IVF treatment took place in an approved clinic, Sarah should have been listed as a parent on her child’s birth certificate. The subsequent adoption order was totally unnecessary. For me, it was legally very interesting to sort out the errors. It was like a complicated exam question overlapping various laws where I had to show my training! It’s not every day that you ask a court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to revoke an adoption order, grant a declaration of parentage and, in the context of judicial review, seek the annulment of an original birth registration. What is concerning is that this mistake was made by the Registrar a few years after the law was amended. One has to wonder how many children born to same-sex female couples now have incorrect birth registrations. I know that, for the record, this is not an isolated event.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: ‘We accept the High Court’s decision and hope it gives the family a chance to move forward. We cannot speculate on what exactly happened as the matter occurred in 2014 and the staff member involved is no longer employed by the council.
Dealing with the media: “I thought the media respected the position that Sarah and Helen were in. There was a strange and misleading headline, but that was quickly rectified.”
Why become a lawyer? “I’ve always had an uncanny knack for remembering movie quotes verbatim. I thought that would be a useful feature in the law.
Career high: “I covered a hearing for a colleague at the last minute in the High Court and was faced with a late argument for the guardian to recuse himself. Having no time to prepare, I argued (successfully) against the hoof application.
Career low: “Although my identity is secret, a dangerous party in a proceeding, who was serving a sentence, arranged to have his skeletal argument delivered to my home.”