Flexible principles over at Charing Cross

I wasn’t quick enough. To be honest, I’m not vindictive enough either. But, as I put the phone down on Charing Cross this morning, it did cross my mind that I could have had a little bit of fun with them

Regulars may well remember a certain amount of hassle I had in September about my name. They took the rather silly view that if I didn’t have a deed poll (a mostly worthless piece of paper that, according to the UK’s main deed poll issuing organisation doesn’t actually require to use the name on it anyway), they wouldn’t use my proper name. A degree of unpleasantness followed which, at the time, left me angry, hurt and mostly in tears.

I am over it right now – though I still reckon their understanding of the law leaves much to be desired and, at some point in the next year or so, I am likely to be back.

Anyway, one of the questions I put to ChX (and which they never officially got back to me on) was: if I change my name within the NHS, what, then, is my “official” name.

We-ell, courtesy of this morning’s phone call, I found out. When it comes to chatting face-to-face, some of the psychs may put up all sorts of pseudo-scientific objection to using the NHS name (I was even told, on one occasion, that they’d have to continue using my old name “for purposes of integrity”, which I think was about their record-keeping integrity).

However, when it comes to cold hard cash, ChX is more than happy to drop its principles, in the words of the sadly departed Tommy Cooper, “just like that”.

The phone call came from their accounts department. Apparently, they were having difficulty getting paid by the pct because, the pct did not recognise the name that ChX had registered for me.

How dumb! Since ChX have had ample opportunity, across dozens of communications with loads of different people, to link my old to my new name, that means two things. First, they are organisationally inept – and have failed to do something pretty straightforward.

Second, the computer system they are using is not fit for purpose. Why? In recent presentations to companies, I have pointed out how a computer system that includes both current name and previous names or aliases is not hard to create – and is loads more secure than one that doesn’t. Many organisations that have probs with name change have probs for this very reason: their system just CAN’T hold alternatives.

So what about ChX? On the evidence of this morning, they don’t/can’t either. How strange, for an organisation that must regularly be dealing with name change to lack this basic facility.

So. I resisted the overwhelming temptation to respond to my phone caller with a petulant and childish “shan’t”. After all, I haven’t got a deed poll, so how can I POSSIBLY have a new name? Surely, by extracting payment from the NHS using my present name, ChX are shooting their own policy in the foot?

Officially, as far as they are concerned, I ain’t Jane – and that’s an issue on which they are more than happy to go to the wall, principle-wise.

But when it comes to a consultancy fee, it rather looks as though their principles are infinitely flexible. Now who’d have guessed that?



4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Phoebe Queen said,

    Frustrating and predictable.

  2. 2

    Stace said,

    One of the best things about being a techy is the ability to have fun with companies when they say the computer is at fault.

    Offer the consultancy! 🙂


  3. 3

    My understanding is that the Statutory Declarations Act (1835) makes it unlawful for any organisation to not recognise your name change. In the UK your name is what YOU choose to call yourself – they don’t get any choice in the matter.

    • 4

      janefae said,

      Hmmm. Really not sure about this. I have asked several lawyers two questions. First, what is the consequence of an individual ignoring their own deed poll or stat dec. The answer seemed to be slightly equivocal about the first, but generally, the balance seemed to come down in favour of saying that a deed poll does not require you to do anything.

      This is backed up by the advice given by the UK’s largest deed poll issuer, to the effect that you are perfectly at liberty to carry on using your old name after you have effected a new one (by dp).

      As regards a stat dec, the situation seems less clear. Inadvertent use of the old name may be OK – but deliberate use of the old name may fall you foul of more recent perjury law, because a stat dec may have the status of an oath (despite the fact it does not need to be sworn). To be honest, i think the penalty for you in either case is likely to be minimal, unless you use either device for fraudulent purposes, at which point, you fall foul of laws concerning fraud.

      As for what obligations a deed poll or stat dec imposes on others…the answer appeared to be “none”. They may “require” others to use your new name, but insofar as they are effectively a form of contract, they fail because the organisation is not party to the document.

      Where you may have better luck is in claiming that failure to accept a new name is either in breach of the DPA or constitutes indirect gender discrimination (both circs detailed in my paper). However, in those instances, you wouldn’t need to have gone the documentary route first to claim the breach of the law.


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