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Advice

CMA guidance for fertility clinics

What fertility businesses need to do in order to be compliant with the Guidance and other relevant laws and regulations.

The CMA expressed concern in 2020 over fertility clinics’ charging practices and the lack of transparency for consumers accessing private fertility treatment, in particular over pricing and claims about success rates. In November 2020 the CMA published draft guidance for the sector upon its dealings with consumers (“Guidance”). The Guidance is aimed primarily at fertility clinics but the CMA believes it is also of relevance to complementary fertility businesses, for example financers of fertility treatment, sperm banks and providers of complementary fertility treatment.

The CMA has been consulting on the Guidance and recently extended the consultation deadline until 29 January 2021. The CMA plans to publish the final version of the Guidance in spring 2021. Alongside the final Guidance, the CMA will publish additional guidance for patients accessing fertility services to help raise awareness of their consumer rights.

The Guidance sets out what information fertility businesses should provide to patients and when this should be provided. It also explains what the CMA believes fertility businesses should do to make sure their terms and practices are fair under consumer law. For example, it sets out different stages of the patient journey with the material information to be provided at each stage, and sets out guidance upon cancellations and refunds.

What fertility clinics should be doing

Where fertility businesses’ practices do not comply with consumer law, the CMA and other bodies can bring court proceedings to stop infringements and seek compensation on behalf of patients. Businesses may also face legal action from patients for breach of contract and consumer law. The CMA actively undertakes investigations to enforce breaches of consumer law – for example its work in the care sector involved an investigation into Sunrise Senior Living Ltd’s charging practices which resulted in this company paying over £2,000,000 in compensation to residents.

Fertility businesses should read the Guidance and consider how the proposals apply to their existing practices. If that highlights potential problems they should make changes to their practices, policies and terms as soon as possible to ensure that their business complies with the law. Businesses that wish to respond to the Guidance can do so.

How we can help

Weightmans is one of the leading healthcare firms in the country and has a first class team of commercial and regulatory healthcare specialists acting for operators, investors, financers and commissioners of healthcare.

We are working with fertility businesses to ensure that their patient-facing documentation is compliant with the Guidance and other relevant laws and regulations. We can also support fertility businesses with complaints and regulatory advice.

 

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