On 8th of December 2018 District Court of Vilnius City issued a decision regarding the original spelling of names and surnames. The Applicant married a citizen of Lichtenstein and took his surname “Marxer”. However, The Vilnius Registrar’s Office (USC) rejected the addition of the surname with “x” to the records.
In the decision, the Court stated that, on the one hand, the current legislation does not provide for the registration of names and surnames in civil status records with letters such as “q”, “x” and “w”, but on the other hand, the court implements the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union – the difference in the entry of the same name may result in serious inconvenience to the people concerned, both in their professional and private life.
In the given situation, the Court acknowledged that the rejection of the addition of the surname to the records and of the issue of marriage certificate with the husband’s name (Marxer) will cause administrative, personal and professional nuisances, related to the change of existing documents confirming the identity, as well as the authentication of these documents, and in the future potential problems with legalization of common assets and/or experiencing difficulties in inheritance. According the Court, the rejection of the addition to civil status records is disproportional to the inconveniences that the applicant would experience if she had not have her husband’s name written with “x” in the records. Furthermore, the prohibition of the addition to the records would also result in breach of the right of personal and family integrity, as well as infringement of the right to choose one’s own surname.
After assessing all of the circumstances stated in the case, and considering the fact that Lithianian citizens, having a letter “x” in their surname and already registered in Population Register, have not suffered any inconveniences, the Court decided that the abidance to the applicable law and the prohibition to comply with the applicant would be incompatible with the principle of fairness and be disproportionate to the expected result and possible consequences in the event of registering different entries of the same surname. The court allowed the application and obliged Vilnius Registrar’s Office to issue a marriage certificate with “x”.
With help of the European Foundation of Human Rights, nearly forty people have taken the opportunity to change their surname through the judicial path. Evelina Dobrovolska, a lawyer and representative of families fighting for the original spelling of names and surnames, emphasizes that the winners do not experience any inconvenience – having entered the name with the “w”, “x” or “q” in the civil status record, this name also appears in the Population register.