Information for social workers and local authority solicitors

Childrens' services are facing some of their most pressing challenges

Cellmark provides a range of services that can provide local authority solicitors and social workers with the ability to establish the true nature of individuals' familial relationships and to provide evidence for cases involving the care, custody and adoption of children.


  • DNA Relationship Testing
  • Immigration & DNA
  • Drug & Alcohol testing
  • Litigants in person
  • There are strict guidelines DNA testing companies must follow  

    DNA paternity testing is an emotional roller-coaster raising complex moral issues that often end up being settled in court. The legal practitioner now needs to fulfill many roles. Working with a reliable, experienced & ethical DNA testing service is key.

    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 labs have the relevant ISO accreditation (ISO17025) and we market our services in an ethical manner.

    For any Legal DNA case, 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.

    The individuals being tested must give their consent for DNA testing. 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.

    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.

    Cellmark provides all the relevant documentation and instructions to simplify the case management process. If you have any concerns phone our Customer Services team on 0800 036 2522.

  • Using an experienced company is essential

    Cellmark provides DNA analysis services for the UK's Visa and Immigration service and has been managing cases from all around the world since 1987.  

    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.

  • An excellent and non-invasive means of detecting substance use

    Hair drug & 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 cutoff 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:

    It is still possible for a parent to seek to reduce the level of detection by either shampooing or bleaching their hair.

    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).

    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.

    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'.

  • Assistance for individuals representing themselves in court

    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 totalling 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:

    Guidance for lawyers by the Law Society, particularly Annex B is helpful for LIPs.
    As is the guidance offered by Child Law Advice's website.

    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.


"I have copied in your customer service email address so I hope this thank you email gets passed up and your hard work recognised."


"You have been brilliant! Thank you very much..."


"Thank you for your prompt reply. I have been impressed by the speediness in which your service has supported this child."

Useful links

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.

Customer service

If you want to speak to us our friendly, professional, customer service advisors are here to take your calls on Mondays from 8.30am to 7.00pm and on Tuesdays to Fridays from 8.30am to 6.00pm. Or you can email us or use our online chat or SMS services.

Register a new case

If you have already considered the implications of DNA relationship testing and are ready to register a new case then call us free on 0800 036 2522, and we can take your details and complete the registration over the phone.