On 22nd June 2016 Vilnius City District Court issued a ruling which obliges the Registry Office to change the spelling of surname of Lithuanian resident with Polish nationality to its original form — from ”Vardyn” to ”Wardyn” — and issue a new birth certificate. This is the second case won by the Wardyn family — 12 April 2016 Vilnius City District Court obliged the Registery Office to write ”w” in the surname of the first Wardyn family child — son Michał. More about son’s win here.
The Court decided that ”current legal regulations do not allow to sufficiently meet social needs and give rights. The will of legislator and intention to change the current legal situation indicate the seriousness of the matter”.
Court has also included the claimants’ arguments and jurisprudence indicating that ”different spelling of both children’s surname causes inconvenience for the claimants and their children which could worsen in the future when they grow up and start to socialize. It can be assumed that the spelling of daughter’s surname with ”w” is also important because of her heritage”.
While accepting the ruling, the Court take under consideration the fact that according to the Residents’ Register Service data, in Lithuania there already are surnames with ”w” letter. Apart from that, Commission of the Lithuanian Language says that exceptions in writing surnames of female Lithuanian residents (and their children) who marry foreigners and accept their surname are possible with use of latin alphabet, with the foreigner’s identification document as a source.
European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) receives more and more requests for help in the situation when the surname is changed top-down and registration is done without relying on the source. Currently, some of EFHR clients are already waiting for court rulings. It is important to note that in four cases the Court obliged the Registry Office to write the surname in its original form for female Lithuanian residents, and their children, who married a foreigner.
Assistant Attorney Evelina Baliko who represents the families fighting in court for the original spelling of names and surnames emphasizes that the Courts when accepting rulings, started applying explanations of the European Union Court of Justice and international conventions.
It is worth noting that the Parliament has not yet made a decision regarding the legal regulation of the spelling of names and surnames. Although, according to the Parliament’s spring session agendas, the spelling of names and surnames bill should have been dealt with in May, up until today Lithuanian residents’ issues with spelling of their names and surnames are being settled in court only.