Monday, July 20, 2009

DNA Paternity Test Kit

The other day The Telegraph carried a story about over-the-counter DNA paternity testing kits that will shortly be available in chemists. The kits will cost £30 and will contain swabs to take samples, which are then posted to the testing company, International Biosciences, who will carry out DNA tests on them for an additional fee of £119. Even without any maternal involvement the test: "Establishes the paternal link between an alleged father and a child" and is "100% conclusive for exclusion and greater than 99% for inclusion."

Obviously, the tests raise a number of moral issues, not least for children who might be rejected as a result of a negative result. As to legal issues, the tests will not be admissible in court proceedings, although in view of their claimed accuracy this may be an academic point, so long as the samples were taken correctly. Clearly, family lawyers are likely to come across these kits (and their results) in their future work. Further, I'm not sure that it would be unethical for a lawyer with a client who doubts whether he is the father of a child to suggest that the client use one of the kits, in an effort to determine the issue without the expense of court proceedings.


  1. IBDNA is a marketing operation, run by a financial consultant. The samples are sent to the University of New Mexico's DNA lab and the work carried out there.

    IBDNA has used both the New Mexico lab's AABB and ISO accreditation logos on its website and letterhead in contravention of UK Trading Standards legislation.

    Lawyers should note that once a DNA sample leaves the UK it is no longer covered by the Human Tissue Act, nor will the current voluntary code of Practice apply.

    It is not illegal to use these kits, as long as the person who gives consent for the child's DNA to be analysed has parental responsibility care and control - but a court will not accept the results as proof of paternity.

    Paul West

  2. Thanks Paul for that clarification.


  3. The problem is going to be that clients will use the evidence from these kits to found a case and then lawyers will obviously advise having a court approved test done, which is not going to be a different result.

  4. Yes, how many mothers will accept the result of a test using one of these kits?

  5. Well if it suits their case then I'm sure they will want to accept the results - but any sensible solicitor/barrister is going to ensure that they'll have to have a "court approved" test done - and that means they've just wasted £150....


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