The law and your name

The law and your name

Maina K. Kinyanjui and Maina Kamau Kinyanjui could be two different people!

Your identity is only known to you and not by the law or the State until you have a proper form or document of identity. That is why it is important to carefully use a name, title and any alias in the right way.

A number of people have fallen victim to identity theft, mistaken identity and usually framed identities in a crime, suit or business. If you thought carrying many names is prestigious, think twice when you fail to get a Student Pass, Visa, Residence Permit or Tender because your documentation does not correspond with your name(s).

Christening is a fundamental mode of identifying anyone. In economic terms, it is the Registrar of Companies who performs this act.

For instance, the law presumes that this one person, who usually writes, signs or identifies as Abdul Hussein Karim, Karim Abdul Hussein, Hussein Abdul Karim or Hussein K. Abdul to be four different people. It matters little that this person has school certificates, birth certificates and diplomas and degrees from institutions he attended, unless the names appear in the same arrangement/order or he makes oath confirming to being one and the same person.

This process can be hectic but is a relief, if handled with urgency. You can re-arrange names, add, remove or change your name (either the forename or surname).

You can change your name for various reasons, and are at liberty to do so at any time. You, however, must swear to these facts: that you were called so-and-so, that you later added or renounced one or more names and that you wish to be called so-and-so from thence.

The document preferred is the Deed Poll.

If you do not fall into the above category, perhaps one below is your situation:

  1.  A married woman with intent to assume her spouse’s name;
  2.  A divorced or separated partner wishing to resume using your maiden name;
  3.  A holder of an embarrassing or unwanted name (choice);
  4.  An unmarried mother of a child holding its father’s name on the birth registration document but now are desirous to have your child carry its father’s name;
  5.  A minor below 16 years (though you will need parental or guardian’s consent to change your name or formalize one); or
  6.  A person who has changed faiths, identity or creed.

Deed Polls must be registered once the formalities of drawing (read drafting) them is dealt with. Registration in Kenya is done at the Principal Registry in Nairobi or Coast Registry if you are at the Coast. In Uganda, the same is commissioned by a Commissioner for Oaths, registered at the Uganda Registry Services Bureau at Amamu House, Kampala or other designated regional office and then tendered to the Government Printers to be gazetted (advertised).

Have clear intentions (as above) for changing a name or formalizing one. Any intimation of fraud or illegal activity will bring legal problems. Also, impossible to pronounce names; vulgar, offending and blasphemous names; names which encourage racial or religious animosity, use of illegal and controlled drugs and substances; names having punctuations, symbols and numbers or names which scorn a race, organisation or group of people may be rejected by the Registrar.

Unless you are DNA, Jose Chameleone, Nameless or STL, do not assume those aliases and initials which you sometimes wish to be called by are known in the Courts of Law and Justice. The people with aliases carry legitimate documentation in their legal names, too!

Get in touch with us at no cost here and we shall advise on how to go about your name circumstances.

BY ATUHAIRWE AGRACE

The law permits sharing.
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