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Information for Solicitors and Barristers

Cellmark is the company of choice for many of the UK's leading legal practitioners for court approved testing. We provide a comprehensive range of DNA, Drug and Alcohol testing services that can provide Solicitors with the ability to establish the true nature of individuals' familial relationships and provide evidence for cases involving the care, custody and adoption of children.

  • UK Company All our DNA testing is carried out in our own accredited UK laboratories.
  • Nationwide sampling service A professional and reliable DNA and hair sampling service.
  • Free confidential advice Our experienced and knowledgeable staff are here to provide assistance.
  • Simple, Transparent Pricing Next Day court approved DNA testing from £324 + VAT.
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  • Instant Quotes Obtain a free hair drug testing quote instantly online.

Important Considerations

In a landmark judgement ([2007] EWHC 3235 (Fam), Case No: MA06C01125) His Honour Judge Haydon outlined a series of steps that solicitors need to consider when dealing with cases involving DNA testing.

Make sure the company you choose is accredited

As a member of the Ministry of Justice's list of accredited bodies, Cellmark is 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.

Our laboratory in Abingdon, Oxfordshire is accredited to ISO 17025 and certified to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001 international quality standards.

They have experience and customer service back up

Cellmark is the UK'S most experienced DNA testing company, since 1987 we have conducted hundreds of thousands of tests. Customer service is a key part of the Cellmark offering and all agents receive extensive training, enabling to them to guide customers calling in through their case. The customer services team at Cellmark are available to take calls from 8.30am till 6pm on week days, with an extra hour on Monday evenings, where the phone lines are open till 7pm.

Give the laboratory clear instructions

Cellmark's skilled staff and our strict, accredited, laboratory processes ensure that your testing is handled confidentially and carefully to produce rapid, reliable results.

DNA Relationship Testing

A paternity test can be an emotional roller-coaster raising complex moral issues that often end up being settled in court. The legal practitioner now needs to fulfil many roles. Working with a reliable, experienced and ethical DNA testing service is key. Cellmark provides all the relevant documentation and instructions to simplify the case management process.


We are accredited by the Ministry of Justice as a body that may carry out parentage tests as directed by the civil courts in England and Wales under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. This means that we comply with the requirements of the Human Tissue Act, abide by the Human Genetics Commission's Common Framework of Principles, our testing service is accredited to the international quality standard ISO 17025 and we market our services in an ethical manner.

Chain of Custody

For any Legal DNA test, the Chain of Custody of the sample is of utmost importance. Cellmark has developed strict procedures and systems to ensure that the procedures have been followed. DNA samples must be taken and each person's identity verified by an independent sample. The chain of custody of all the samples must be strictly recorded

Human Tissue Act

The individuals being tested must give their consent for their DNA test. The Human Tissue Act 2004 specifies that it is the treating clinician’s responsibility to seek consent from a parent, person with parental responsibility or relative. Failure to ensure this constitutes the offence of "DNA theft" which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years and/or a fine of £3,000.

Independent Sampling

Cellmark offers a convenient sampling service which allows the samples to be taken by an independent and suitably trained person. We have also introduced a free service whereby we can train key members of your team to become 'Cellmark trained' DNA samplers - to reduce the overall cost of testing and to make sampling more convenient. Please note that the sampler should not be related to the sample giver, nor have any financial or personal interest in the outcome of the paternity test.

Immigration and DNA Testing

Cellmark has been providing DNA immigration testing services for customers since 1987. Our results are accepted by the UK Borders Agency as well as immigration departments in countries around the globe.

The interpretation of test results in immigration cases is a highly skilled and complex process. Using an experienced company is essential - as others have found to their cost. In the matter of Neutral Citation Number: [2007] EWHC 3235 (Fam), Case No: MA06C01125 what ended up as a tragic comedy of errors could easily have been averted if the parties had understood the complexities of the matter under review and Judge Hayden's public judgement outlined a series of steps that solicitors need to consider when dealing with cases involving DNA testing.

Make sure the company you choose is accredited and make sure they have the experience required and the customer service back up you need. It is then essential that clear instructions are given, by the solicitor to the laboratory, on exactly which relationships are to be tested.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Hair drug and alcohol testing is an excellent and non-invasive means of detecting substance use over an extended period of time. Our fully validated in-house methodology is based on state-of-the art technology, using equipment which has been specifically selected to perform at the highest levels, enabling fast turn-around-times without compromising on quality. We exceed the guidelines for hair testing that have been published by the Society of Hair Testing that specify the markers to be tested for and the cut-off concentrations that need to be tested.

Guidance was set out in a 2010 judgement by Judge Moylan as to the use of hair strand testing for alcohol in Children's Act proceedings. The judgement sets out in detail the forms of hair strand testing currently available and is also of note as it provides a clear reminder to experts who produce reports within Children Act proceedings of their duties under the Practice Direction 'Experts in Family Proceedings Relating to Children' (2009) 2 FLR 1383.

Hair strand testing is generally still reliable to test for frequent and excessive consumption of alcohol. This has to be read with the caveats that:

  1. It is still possible for a parent to seek to reduce the level of detection by either shampooing or bleaching their hair.
  2. It is still possible that the level of detection may be increased by, for example, the use of products on the hair which contain alcohol, or as a result of other factors including through alimentary alcohol being present in food (e.g. some breads).
  3. The cut-offs for frequent and excessive consumption have been set through empirical research and ROC analysis, and are set at a point where the results were understood to produce 10% false positive and 10% false negative results.
  4. The analysis of the hair strand test results should be for a minimum period of three months.

When used, the tests should only form part of the evidential picture. However, where the results are 'very high' such results might form a 'significant part of the evidential picture'.

Litigants in Person (LIPs)

With the changes in legal aid funding it has meant that many more people are having to represent themselves in court - in March 2013 the Master of the Rolls issued a Practice Guidance totaling 422 pages was issued to the Courts to ensure that LIPs receive equal treatment. The guidance has been summarised. Excellent and more user-friendly advice can be found in a number of places:

  1. Guidance for lawyers by the Law Society, particularly Annex B is helpful for LIPs.
  2. As is the guidance offered by Child Law Advice's website.
  3. Cellmark's experienced Customer Services team is adept at assisting LIPs in getting the sort of testing they require and providing reports that are accepted by the courts for further information phone our team on 0800 036 2522.

What our family law customers are saying . . .

Thank you very much for getting the results back to us so quick and in time for the hearing...... You’ve all been a massive help!

...the service from Cellmark is outstanding and efficient. I will continue to instruct and recommend Cellmark in all future cases.

I would just like to personally express my thanks to you for all your assistance in ensuring we received the results before the court hearing and all of your hard work.

From ensuring that you have the right information before commencing the process to understanding what the final test report means - we aim to provide assistance every step of the way.