The Human Tissue Act 2004 applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Human Tissue Authority regulate activities concerning the removal, storage, use and disposal of human tissue. The Human Tissue Acts primary focus is consent and the lawful removal, storage and use of body parts, organs and tissue. Different consent requirements apply when dealing with tissue from the living and the deceased. The Human Tissue Act 2004 lists the purposes for which consent is required.
For the purposes of DNA testing, human tissue is defined as material that has come from a human body and consists of, or includes, human cells.
It is an offence known as DNA ‘theft’ to have human tissue with the intention of its DNA being analysed, without the informed consent of the person from whom the tissue came.
The offence of DNA theft applies throughout the United Kingdom and carries a sentence of three years imprisonment, a fine or both.
Informed consent means that the sample donor must be made aware of how their DNA sample will be used.
Children under the age of consent must have a signature of a legal parent or guardian.
If you are unsure of your ability to provide consent on behalf of a child please seek legal advice or Contact Us for more information before proceeding with a test.
We are unable to perform a DNA test without the consent of all participants and any samples received will be put on hold until all the required signatures have been provided.
There are separate regulations in Scotland – the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006. While provisions of the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 are based on authorisation rather than consent, these are essentially both expressions of the same principle. Click here for more information about the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006