The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has introduced new measures to provide a more streamlined process when considering licensing applications for embryo research centres and fertility clinics. The introduction of a new Appeals Committee and an Executive Licensing Panel came about as a result of new powers granted to the HFEA under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (amending a 1990 Act of the same name).
The Appeals Committee is to be an impartial body of seven members who are not already members of the HFEA. The chair will be Mr Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC, a barrister practicing at the London Bar in general common law, specialising in personal injuries, health and safety, clinical and professional negligence, coroners' inquests and insurance. The Deputy, Ms Hilary Newiss, is an intellectual property lawyer who has served on many public bodies in the ethics, legal and scientific research field, including the Human Genetics Commission. The other members of the committee will be Ms Catharine Seddon, Mr Enda McVeigh, Mrs Jennifer Dunlop, Mr Kevin Artley and Ms Julia Drown.
From 1 October, all routine licensing matters will be delegated to the Executive Licensing Panel, in a commitment to provide timely and high-quality decisions. The HFEA's existing Licensing Committees will continue to consider research applications and any complex or controversial issues.