The Story of Humpty Dumpty

14 Oct

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Not so long ago in a city not so far away, Good Queen Bess made Humpty Dumpty President of the Family Division. “From now on,” said Humpty Dumpty as he hauled himself up on to the top of the wall, “Everybody in the Kingdom should do exactly what I say because it’s clear I’m much cleverer than they are.”

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Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Not so long ago in a city not so far away, Good Queen Bess made Humpty Dumpty President of the Family Division. “From now on,” said Humpty Dumpty as he hauled himself up on to the top of the wall, “Everybody in the Kingdom should do exactly what I say because it’s clear I’m much cleverer than they are.”
 
One day, some lawyers went to the wall to consult Humpty Dumpty about the meaning of section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. “Humpty Dumpty,” the lawyers shouted, “Please help our clients. They’ve gone and got themselves in a terrible mess. They entered into a surrogacy agreement without taking proper legal advice first and it looks like they’ve missed the deadline for applying for a parental order under section 54(3).” “Not to worry,” Humpty Dumpty blustered. “From now on, the law means exactly what I say it means.
 
Therefore, when the law says, ‘Except in a case falling within subsection (11)(which doesn’t apply in this case), the applicants must apply for the order during the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the child is born,’ what it really means is that they can apply for an order at any time, even long after the 6 months period clearly defined by the 2008 has ended.”
“Yippee! You’ve made everything better.” the lawyers cried.
Then they and some passing journalists starting singing, “Humpty Dumpty, you are the cleverest President of the Family Division there’s ever been.” “Tell me something I don’t know,” Humpty Dumpty said, helping himself to another slice of good publicity in the popular press.

And they all lived happily ever after. At least, they did until Humpty Dumpty rewrote statutes willy-nilly to say things the lawyers and the journalists didn’t like. Then they were really, really, really unhappy. However, Humpty Dumpty didn’t care: he retired on a full judicial pension and got a seat in the House of Lords.
And all the Queen’s Horses and all the Queen’s men couldn’t put the law together again.
THE END
Re X (A Child)(Surrogacy: Time Limit) [2014] EWHC 3135 (Fam)

Graeme Harrison

For more information on Family Law, click here.