In an unusual case, the relatives of an unidentified deceased person have applied to the High Court for access to records held by a British fertility clinic.

The application was made under the 1990 Access to Health Records Act, which gives individuals the right to access their own medical records. This is believed to be the first time lawyers have ever attempted to use this legislation in relation to a deceased person.

The case, which concerns the storage and use of reproductive material, came before President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane earlier this month. The High Court released a short explanatory statement:

“The President of the Family Division has heard today in private an application…under the Access to Health Records Act 1990 to a fertility clinic by a personal representative of a deceased’s estate for access to health records regarding the posthumous storage and use of sperm and/or embryos.”

Sir Andrew’s ruling has been “reserved” the statement continued – meaning postponed till a later date. No further details of the case have been released at this stage.

Image by RestrictedData via Flickr (Creative Commons)