Independent advice on private healthcare
Selecting a testing service
Selecting a testing service
If you would like to know about DNA paternity testing, including the reasons for paternity testing and the types of DNA paternity tests that are available, the information in our DNA testing guide will interest you.
The Paternity Testing Industry
There are many different companies providing paternity test services particularly on the internet, many of which offer a variety of tests, prices and sampling methods.
Many DNA testing services are operated from overseas and indeed samples are sent abroad for analysis from organisations acting as brokers or middlemen in the UK. There may also be variation in the accuracy of results depending on how the paternity test is done and what type of testing methods are used and how many individual DNA tests are used by the testing laboratory to analyse each paternity case.
Here’s a checklist to help:
Most reputable DNA paternity testing laboratories will claim a 99.99% minimum certainty of proof of paternity when mother, “father” and child are all tested. However the result will be 100% proof if the man tested is not the father.
When more complex relationships are tested you should consider how “conclusive” the results will be – immigration work, sibling analysis and grand-parentage results may be far less conclusive as there are more possible relationships and few of them available for DNA paternity testing.
For a court to accept DNA test results as evidence of paternity, it is essential that the court can be certain that the correct procedures have been followed, right from the taking of the samples to the reporting of the results.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is the authoritative body that gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks. It maintains a short list of companies that have been accredited to carry out parentage tests directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.
Being accredited by the Ministry of Justice means that
The company abides by the voluntary Code of Practice for genetic testing laboratories, and is accredited to the International Quality Standard ISO17025.
- All individuals to be DNA tested will have to provide written consent – since this is an absolute requirement under the Human Tissue Act 2004, and failure to ensure this can open yourself up to the offence of ‘DNA theft’ which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 years and/or a fine of £3000 (even if your sample is sent overseas).
- The samples are taken by an independent and suitably qualified medical practitioner.
- The sampler should not be related to the sample giver, nor have any financial or personal interest in the outcome of the paternity test.
- DNA testing procedures are followed to ensure that the correct individuals are tested
- DNA testing is undertaken in a professional manner which complies with UK legislation
If the company is not MoJ accredited the results of their tests will not be valid in court. For more information about DNA paternity testing and the courts see Her Majesty's Courts Service web site.
Experience and Credibility
How long has your supplier been in the paternity test business, how many DNA tests have they undertaken? Do they undertake work for any major organisations e.g. the Police or Government?
A number of companies offering DNA testing services over the Internet use laboratories which are based outside of the UK to conduct the testing. These laboratories are outside the scope and control of UK legislation. Some of these Internet based companies are marketing agencies for US based laboratories and are not DNA specialists.
Does your supplier adhere to the voluntary Code of Practice and Guidance on Genetic Paternity Testing Services in the UK to ensure the provision of testing in an accurate, confidential and ethical manner? Check that any “curiousity” tests the company undertakes are analysed in a completely separate laboratory otherwise the validity of your test results could be challenged. You can download a copy of the code of practice from the Department of Health’s website -www.dh.gov.uk. Do they follow identification procedures that comply with the Family Law Reform Act 1969. This means that, even if samples are taken by a doctor when others in the case are not present, you can be sure of the integrity of the result.
The Code of Practice states that those consenting to DNA / paternity testing have had an opportunity to consider the possible implications raised by knowledge of the results of the paternity test. Does the company offer a confidential help and advice service throughout the testing process?
How easy is it to do business with the company - can you talk direct to them if you need to?
Quality & Standards
You should demand rigorous quality assurance systems which are in compliance with international ISO quality standards e.g. ISO9001:2000 and ISO17025 and procedures that are subject to regular independent external monitoring ensuring results of the highest standard.
How long will you have to wait to get the results – is it 3 working days from receipt of samples at the laboratory, or 5 or 10? Waiting only adds to the emotional pressures you are facing.
The decision to have a paternity test is one faced by thousands of people every year, often in complicated emotional circumstances. It is therefore essential that you choose the right company to carry out your DNA test. The quality, accuracy and conclusiveness of the DNA testing and the service you receive should be important considerations.
Paternity testing guide
- What does it involve?
- Types of DNA test