I managed to speak to Claudia in the end. I recorded the call on my phone, but I’m not sure how to transfer the file to upload it on here. It’s probably quite easy (EDIT: now uploaded, see below). In the meantime, this is a transcript of the conversation:

Deed Poll Office receptionist: Hello, Deed Poll Office, how can I help?
James Ward: Hi, can I speak to Claudia please?
Deed Poll Office receptionist: Yes, who’s calling?
James Ward: It’s James Ward
Deed Poll Office receptionist: Bear with me a second.


Claudia: Hello, is that James?
James Ward: Yeah, hello. Hi, is that Claudia?
Claudia: Hello, it’s Claudia speaking. Thank you for returning my call. We received your email…
James Ward: Yeah.
Claudia: …saying that you require a name cha– Am I right in thinking that you want a name change document…
James Ward: Yeah.
Claudia: Although you don’t intend to change your name?
James Ward: Yeah, I want, I want to change, well effectively to change my name from James Michael Ward to James Michael Ward.
Claudia: With exactly the same spelling.
James Ward: Yep.
Claudia: So effectively there’s no change.
James Ward: Erm, well, no.
Claudia: Right. You can’t do that.
James Ward: Can I not?
Claudia: No. Because it’s a name change document… you are… it says in the document that you are relinquishing your previous name, so the fact there is no change whatsoever means you are not doing that.
James Ward: Right. OK. So it’s not possible.
Claudia: No, it’s certainly not possible. To have… I mean, that’s why it’s called “change of name”. You need to have some sort of change.
James Ward: Right.
Claudia: And, it can’t…otherwise, it would just be a certificate of your name, which is what your birth certificate is, effectively.
James Ward: OK. So, I guess if I changed my name to something else and then changed it back…
Claudia: If you changed your name to something else and… why do you want this?
James Ward: Erm.
Claudia: I’m just trying to understand why you…
James Ward: Well, you know, when you’re given your name as a child – a baby…
Claudia: Yeah.
James Ward: You don’t get to have any say in the matter. So now I’m just kind of like… I want my name to be something I’ve chosen rather than something given to me.
Claudia: Right. I understand that…but most people, if they’re a bit affronted by the fact that their parents have chosen their name for them and they want to chose it themselves, they will choose a slightly different name or a completely different name.
James Ward: Yeah.
Claudia: There would be some sort of difference.
James Ward: Yeah.
Claudia: But you’re…
James Ward: I happen to agree with the choice that my parents made…
Claudia: So, you agree with the choice your parents made for you name, but you want to have a certificate saying…
James Ward: Yeah, that I made the choice myself.
Claudia: That you chose it.
James Ward: Yeah.
Claudia: You want a certificate saying that you agree with your parents.
James Ward: Yeah. It’s like if you were baptised, and you have confirmation when you’re sort of thirteen or whatever, it’s the same sort of thing but with a name.
Claudia: I mean, if you… if you wanted, literally, a certificate of your name, the only way to do it would be to… change your name to something different and then do another deed poll changing it from that name…
James Ward: Back.
Claudia: Back to the name you want to be. But you wouldn’t be able to present it to anyone. I mean, it would… you know, because presumably you wouldn’t want to actually go round and apply for a new passport and everything for a name that you don’t actually want and then have to show them the new deed poll going to the name that you want, the name that you are at the moment.
James Ward: No. That would…
Claudia: I mean…
James Ward: That would be a waste of time.
Claudia: Yeah. I mean, really wouldn’t it be cheaper just to go on Photoshop and create yourself a little certificate saying that you’d like…
James Ward: But…
Claudia: I know it sounds daft, but that’s effectively what we’d be doing for you. I mean, it’s not possible, no-one’s going to be able to do it because of the fact you can’t say that you’re relinquishing your name and there certainly, as far as I’m aware, aren’t companies out there which cater for someone saying “I really like my name and I agree, you know, with the choice that my parents have made”.
James Ward: Maybe it’s a service you could offer.
Claudia: To be honest… our company’s been running ten years and we’re the largest issuer of deed polls in the UK and I have never encountered someone like you who doesn’t really want a name change, they just want to say they agree with their parents and they have effectively chosen it for themselves. You’re quite unique, I don’t think we’d be able to market it to many people.
James Ward: I thought there’d be loads… I thought…
Claudia: I mean…
James Ward: Maybe I’ll go on Dragon’s Den.
Claudia: I mean, there… there just really isn’t much we can do. If you don’t want to change…if you were changing one letter of your name we’d be able to do a deed poll, it’s not a problem.
James Ward: Right.
Claudia: Because that is technically a name change then. But, for you to not change your name at all…
James Ward: Yeah…
Claudia: There’s nothing we can do for you.
James Ward: Alright, well thanks for looking into it anyway…
Claudia: No, that’s fine, I mean, just bear with me one second…


Claudia: Hello?
James Ward: Hello.
Claudia: I was just checking, because your…because we were ready to process your application, we have already charged your card but we will issue a refund for it…
James Ward: Right.
Claudia: Later on today. Unless you want to rethink the name change and change it by one letter or something which we can certainly do and issue a deed poll for you, but we can’t issue a document if you’re not changing in the slightest.
James Ward: Yeah. OK. Well, if you just issue the refund and then if I change my mind, I’ll do a new application.
Claudia: That’s not a problem, we’ll do that for you later on today.
James Ward: OK.
Claudia: OK, sorry about that. Thanks for getting in touch though.
James Ward: Thanks.
Claudia: Thank you. Bye.
James Ward: Bye.

I am still, and remain, James Ward. But it is still not legally recognised that this is a name I have chosen for myself. According to Wikipedia, all you need is a piece of paper with the following wording signed and witnessed:

Change of name deed by [former name] of [address]
I have given up my name [former name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].
Signed as a deed on [date] as [former name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness’s name, signature and address].

It feels like cheating to do it myself like that though. There needs to be some sort of ritual, some ceremony. Something. Not a document I’ve put together myself in Word and printed out. That’s not enough. I might go to a solicitor and see if they’ll do it for me, it will cost a lot more, but for that reason, they are more likely to agree.

EDIT: I’ve worked out how to upload the sound file, which means that I wasted quite a lot of time typing all that out and you’ve wasted quite a lot of time reading it. Sorry about that.

27 Comment on “DEED POLL PART TWO

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