Surrogacy Agreements Violate French Public Policy


The French Supreme Court for private and criminal matters (Cour de cassation) has delivered yesterday three judgments which ruled that foreign surrogacy agreements violate French public policy.

In each of the three cases, the child or children were born in a state of the United States where the practice was lawful (MN twice, CA once). In a common press release, the Cour de cassation explained that it was faced with two issues: 1) did the American judgments violate public policy, and 2) if so, should they be nevertheless recognised as a consequence of rights of the French couple and of the children afforded by international conventions. All three judgments gave the same reasons: 

  1. The foreign (ie American) birth certificate could not be mentioned in the French civil status registry.
  2. The reason why was that the foundation of the birth certificate was a foreign judgment which violated French public policy.
  3. Under present French law (“en l’état du droit positif“), surrogacy agreements violate a fundamental principle of French law.
  4. The fundamental principle of French law is the principle that civil status is inalienable. Pursuant to this principle, one may not derogate to the law of parenthood by contract (see Art. 16-7 and 16-9 of the Civil Code).
  5. This outcome does not violate Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as the children have a father in any case (ie the biological father), a mother under the law of the relevant US state, and may live together with the French couple in France. 
  6. This outcome does not violate either Article 3-1 of the New York Convention on the Rights of the Child and the best interest of the child rule (no reason given for this statement)

We had already reported on one of the three cases, where the California judgment had first been recognised by the Paris Court of appeal. The Cour de cassation had then allowed an appeal against this decision on a procedural point. A second Court of appeal judgment followed, which held that the American judgment violated French public policy. This new judgment of the Cour de cassation dismisses an appeal against this second jugdment of another division of the Paris Court of appeal. 


Needless to say, the couple (picture) is not happy about this decision. They claim that the judgment ignores the best interest of the child. They challenge the fact that the children may live in France, as, it is argued, they would not be granted French citizenship in the absence of mention in the French civil status registry. The couple has already announced that they intend to initiate proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights.