Couple who brought baby from Ukraine get legal costs for hotel quarantine case

Irish parents had travelled abroad for birth of their son by surrogacy

An Irish couple who brought a High Court case over concerns that they might not be allowed to return to Ireland with their newborn child from the Ukraine have secured the legal costs of their action against the State.

The action was brought by Mark Hedderman and his wife, Sinead Hedderman Gallagher, who went to Ukraine earlier this month, for the birth of their son Theo Declan by surrogacy.

It arose over a requirement for arrivals from Ukraine to Ireland to enter into mandatory hotel quarantine, a measure designed to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, for up to 14 days.

The family feared anyone travelling from a designated country such as Ukraine to Ireland would not be allowed board their flight unless they had pre-booked a hotel, the court heard.


The couple had claimed the pre-book requirement, especially in circumstances where there are no rooms available, was a breach of their rights.

They claimed there was no power to direct airlines to accept passengers without pre-booking and their rights were breached by a failure of the State to guarantee their return passage to Ireland.

They claimed the blanket imposition of a requirement to book a quarantine hotel, regardless of their individual circumstances, is a wholly disproportionate and unreasonable interference with the right to liberty.

Their case was against the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Transport, Health Ireland and the Attorney General. When the case came before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore last week, the court heard new regulations would allow the family return home and they would not have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

On Friday, Micheál O’Higgins SC for the family, said they returned home last Saturday, hours after the new regulations were put in place. The family had ultimately succeeded in what they had set out to achieve, counsel said. On consent, the case could be struck out, and that an order for his client’s legal costs could be made against the respondents. Catherine Donnelly SC, for the State, said her side was not objecting to those orders.

Mr Justice O’Moore, who noted the novel points raised in the case and the fact the action had resulted in changes to the regulations, said he was satisfied to make a costs order in favour of the family against the State.The costs are estimated to be a five-figure sum.