District court refuses to amend Emil Ratelband's date of birth

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Arnhem, 03 december 2018

The district court has refused to amend Emil Ratelband’s date of birth. Mr Ratelband had asked the district court to make the amendment to match the age that he says that he feels (49). The court found that there was no scope in legislation or case law to allow such a ruling.

Age-related rights and duties

The court did not find any reason in Mr Ratelband’s arguments to create new case law in line with the statutory provisions on changes to a person’s officially registered name or gender. Its main reason was that, unlike the situation with respect to a change in registered name or gender, there are a variety of rights and duties related to age, such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mr Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.

Undesirable legal and societal implications

The court recognised that there was a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person’s date of birth. Mr Ratelband had failed to sufficiently substantiate his claim that he suffers from age discrimination, and in any case there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person’s date of birth.

The court also rejected Mr Ratelband’s argument based on free will, since free will does not extend so far as to make every desired outcome legally possible. Mr Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications. The priority must be to ensure that the public registers contain accurate factual information.