The Department for Constitutional Affairs is responsible for maintaining a list of accredited bodies able to carry out court-directed scientific tests for parentage in accordance with a direction made by a court pursuant to section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969. This list is a procedural device to allow the court to identify a tester in cases where the court makes a section 20 direction.
As a result of a recent review of the procedures associated with adding bodies to the list, a revised list of criteria for accreditation has now been agreed. The criteria are:
Applicants must make a written application on a form supplied by the Department;
Applicants must produce evidence of current accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025 (an international laboratory standard concerning measurement and testing) by an accreditation body which complies with the requirements of ISO/IEC 17011 evidenced by full membership of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC);
Applicants must give an undertaking to: comply with the Department of Health's code of practice and guidance on genetic paternity testing services (or any revised version thereof) when carrying out court-directed tests under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969; comply with the Blood Tests (Evidence of Paternity) Regulations 1971 (as amended), or any revised version thereof; and comply with the Department's restrictions on the way in which their accredited status is represented in advertising or informational material.
The Department will consider applications from ISO-accredited laboratories wherever situated, but will not consider applications from intermediary organisations. The Department will conduct an annual review of the continuing eligibility of each body on the list.
A more detailed paper on the accreditation by the Department of paternity testing bodies has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses today.