Last week I read a news item about how a Russian woman named Natalya had a sex change operation to become Andrian in an attempt to avoid liability for her debts.
Andrian also applied for several more loans in his new identity. However, the bailiff company enforcing payment gave Andrian the bad news that he was still liable for Natalya’s debts.
So, what is the situation here in the UK? Would Natalya/Andrian have got away with it?
Changing your name
If a person decides to change their name by deed poll in the UK, they will be required to inform various bodies to obtain new documents in their new name. This may include a new passport and driving licence, plus a change of bank details.
Changing their name, whether by deed poll or because of marriage, does not in any way remove their liability for their debts. If a judgment has been issued against the debtor in a previous name, they are still required to pay it and it can still be enforced.
In fact the legislation states that a person may not change their name if they are doing so for deceptive or fraudulent purposes.
These changes of details will be stored and passed on to credit agencies who will keep a record of aliases, i.e. the old name, along with the new. This allows the successful tracing of debtors who have changed their name.
Many who choose to undergo gender reassignment will also change their name by deed poll. Some may request a formal gender recognition certificate, which means that they are considered in the eyes of the law to be of their acquired gender and are entitled to all the rights appropriate to a person of the acquired gender.
However, in exactly the same way as in the case of a change of name, this does not remove their liability for their debts and judgments awarded in their previous gender and identity may still be enforced.
There are many good agencies available to support those who are struggling to pay their debts, such as the National Debtline and the Citizens Advice Bureau. I would advise anyone in such circumstances to seek their advice. Which will not include changing your name or gender!