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LEGAL AID: Can I change my name and signature?

Wednesday February 26 2020
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It has always been my wish to drop two aspects of my identity, namely my English name, i.e. Patrick, and lastly my signature, which is so ridiculously simple that it can't be seen as a signature. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ERIC MUKOYA

Good Evening,

Upon reading your article on change of name, I found reason to believe you could help me with an issue that has bothered me a lot.

It has always been my wish to drop two aspects of my identity, namely my English name, i.e. Patrick, and lastly my signature, which is so ridiculously simple that it can't be seen as a signature. It is only my initials, separated by full stops. Is it possible to apply to change a signature, at least?

Thank you.

Looking forward to your reply.

 

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Dear Sir,

Your words mean a lot to us. That our responses motivate you to seek answers to some nagging questions is more than a compliment. You have encouraged us to keep the conversations on legal matters up and running.

Secondly, you may wonder why we have addressed you as Sir. It’s both a sign of respect and a reiteration of your desire to drop the name Patrick.

For the benefit of other readers who may have missed our previous piece on change of name, allow us to delve into the topic and thereafter offer response to your two questions on change of name and signature.

The process of change of name is anchored on the Birth and Death Registration Act, and the Registration of Documents (Change of name) Regulations.

The former speaks to the substantive component with the latter speaking more on the process.

The process commences at registration of name immediately after birth, whereupon, birth notification is presented to the Registrar of Births for official conferment of a name.

Parents or legal guardians are allowed a two-year window by the law to change the name of their child, after which, an entirely new process kicks in.

The new process is hinged on Registration of Documents (Change of name) Regulations.

The process is actualised through completing a legal document referred to as Deed Poll in which the person wishing to change his/her name, be it an adult or a minor, renounces and abandons use of his/her former name and assumes a new name.

Once completed, the document is presented to the registrar for gazettement.

 

The registrar may refuse to accept change of name if:

i) The change of name is impossible to pronounce;

ii) Includes numbers, symbols or punctuation marks;

iii) Chosen name is vulgar, offensive or blasphemous;

iv) Name chosen promotes criminal activities;

v) Name chosen may result in the belief that one has been conferred or inherited an honour, among others.

As a country, we don’t have a law that regulates change of signature.

But just as you are at liberty to change your name following the procedure provided for in this text, it is presumed that your capacity to alter signature can follow the same route.

Nonetheless, each of these steps has due diligence required to ensure the same is in tandem with the value and legal philosophies of the country. For the change name please refer to issues that could motivate the registrar to reject your initiative.

Furthermore, for the signature, you owe your service providers such as banks, insurance companies among other entities where you need to provide the specimen of the new signature.

As you purpose to change the signature, it is important to ensure the new signature doesn’t resemble that of any other person to avoid running the risk of being labelled a fraudster.

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Eric Mukoya is the Executive Director, Legal Resources Foundation Trust. Do you have a legal problem you would like addressed by a lawyer? Please email your queries to [email protected]  

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