Under the Human Tissue Act 2004 consent is required for a biological sample to be DNA tested to determine paternity or any other relationship. Written, informed consent must be provided for each adult sample and for each sample taken from a child. 

In fact, since 2006 it has been a criminal offence in the UK to have in your possession a biological sample with the intention of carrying out a DNA paternity test if that person has not given their consent.

Cellmark’s testing kit therefore includes consent forms which must be completed and signed by each person giving a sample, or in the case of a child, by a person who is in a legal position to give consent for the child. Please bear in mind that any form of 'discreet' DNA testing where samples have been taken and submitted secretly is not permitted in this country.

What is 'informed consent'?

Informed consent means consent that has been given knowingly, with a full understanding what is being signed for. Consent must also have been provided voluntarily and the individual must not have been subjected to undue influence, pressure or threat of any kind.

Who can give consent for a child to be tested?

Someone with Parental Responsibility for a child must provide written consent:

  • The mother of the child will automatically have Parental Responsibility
  • The father of the child who is married to the mother will also automatically have Parental Responsibility
  • The father who is not married to the mother may also have Parental Responsibility if:
    • He is named on the birth certificate, provided that the birth was registered (or re-registered) after 1st December 2003, or
    • He has a formal Parental Responsibility Agreement lodged with a court, or
    • He has a Parental Responsibility Order or a Residence Order
  • Someone other than the parents may also have Parental Responsibility for a child (usually by Court Order).

Please be aware that in signing the Consent form for a child you are confirming not only that you give consent, but also that you have the legal right to provide consent. Seek Legal advice if there is any doubt about whether you have Parental Responsibility and note that it is a serious offence, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, to impersonate another person for the purpose of providing a bodily sample, or to submit a sample for testing when you are not in a position to provide consent for that sample to be tested.

If you need any assistance understanding who can provide consent, please call Cellmark's customer services department free on 0800 043 1987.