Re C (Change of Forename: Child in Care)

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Changing the forename of a child in care due to potential possibility of cyber bullying in the future

Re C (Change of Forename: Child in Care)
[2023] EWHC 2813 (Fam)
In the High Court of Justice, Family Division
Case Number LS23C50158
Before Justice Cobb
Decided on November 09, 2023

Relevancy of the Case: Changing the forename of a child in care due to potential possibility of cyber bullying in the future

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Children Act 1989 (Section 38)
  • The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 (Section 2)
  • The European Convention on Human Rights (Article 8)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • A has an 8-month-old child, C. She is C’s mother, while B is the father.
  • The Local Authority is seeking to change the child’s name. A has named C as “Mia”. Conventionally, Mia is referred to as a girl’s name.
  • The Local Authority believes that this name could lead to bullying during his childhood. The authority suggested another name, T2, for the child.
  • B supports the Local Authority’s position. However, A disagrees and wants the name to remain as it is. She has also filed a withdrawn application for this judgment, citing emotional involvement.

Prominent Arguments by the Counsels

  • The Local Authority’s counsel contended that Mia is usually attributed to the female gender. This name would mean C would likely suffer harm by teasing, cyber bullying, and ridicule. The child’s paternal family wishes the complete removal of the name Mia and replacement with the forename T2. The court can exercise its power under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • The counsel, appearing for the child’s guardian, argues that if the child is to remain with the carers wholly opposed to the name, it would harm his daily life.
  • The counsel, appearing for the mother, contended that it is highly speculative to consider that the name Mia would attract cyber bullying. Moreover, the court’s interference would violate Article 8.

Opinion of the Bench

  • There are no reasonable grounds to believe that C will suffer significant harm through cyber bullying with the current name. However, there are reasonable grounds to believe that C will suffer intra-family conflict and confusion with this name.
  • The courts should only interfere with the rental choice of a forename in the most extreme cases.
  • The local authority can change the child’s forename to T2 while keeping his current name as his middle name.

Final Decision

  • The court granted leave to the Local Authority with the abovementioned guideline.

Arnav Kaman, an undergraduate student at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab, and Ritesh Karale, an undergraduate student at Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai, prepared this case summary during their internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2024.