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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I changed my name via statuary declaration over 20 years

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I changed my name via statuary declaration over 20 years ago. I have all my legal documents in my new name including passport, driving licence, property, bank accounts etc.
However, I have found myself in a legal dispute with a billionaire businessman in the French courts, who is aware of my current legal name, but has chosen to pursue me in my former name.
In doing so, I have chosen not to accept service of court papers as they are in my former name, which I ceased to use when I changed my name over 20 years ago.
However, I have since been informed that judgement was made against my former name earlier this year.
What is the legal position under English law on my name change.
Was I right to refuse service?
Can I ask the French court to set-aside the judgement made against my former name and ask the French court if proceedings can be restated under my current legal name?
Or should I just simply ignore the current situation on the grounds I'm not legally known in the name on the documents or judgement made.
I do not want to contact the French Court, if it will compromise my current situation?
Please advise best advice and or where best I could obtain it.
For the record, I want to meet the person Pursuing me in court, but an English Court is my preference for a number of key reasons.

You have posted your question in English law. We can answer you the position in law not French law. You would need to put a separate question on the French law section of the site

You happy to proceed on that basis?

We need full background detail as to why this person has decided to use your original name and what the basis of the proceedings are. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
HIThe history of this case goes back to 2008 to the present day.I was subjected to harassment, intimidation, stalking and defamation by his ex-employee and still believe he is on his payroll a person I have never spoken too and who takes his instructions from this said person. I am not the only person that has been subjected to his criminal behaviour.I responded by researching and writing his unauthorised biography, which I intend to have published end of this year.Because his criminal activity towards me was getting serious, I notified the Guernsey Police and the UK police back in 2013 and 2014 but they chose not to pursue my complaints.In 2014 the Guernsey Police decided to instigate a criminal investigation when it was in receipt of over 50 statements from other residents where I resided against this person's employee. The papers are now with the equivalent of the CPS in Guernsey.In 2014 I put my first blog on line to redress what he was subjecting me too and having written about me. My blog can be found on line at: lorddechanson.wordpress.comHe claims I have insulted him and accordingly issued papers via the Paris court for "insults". An insult is only an insult if it was untrue.I owned a leasehold property on Sark, which he later acquired the head lease. He knows my legal name as it was on my sub lease.But for reasons only known to him, he has attempted to issue Paris court papers upon me since 2015 in my former name.He has chosen the Paris court on the grounds residents of France could access my blog within France.The real reason why he has chosen Paris rather than the London High Court is that he wants to limited exposure of his own wrong doing, the fact I am unable to cross examine him under oath and to limit key witnesses.The other reason is the language. I do not speak French and although the Paris court would offer translation, much of what I have to say would not translate properly and some evidence would mean little to the French court, but would be better understood In the English court.However, the detail within the French case is not what I'm seeking advice upon at the moment.I'm more interested in English Law and the potential technicality in question.I was born in the UK, holding a UK passport and driving licence and where I decided to change my name over twenty years ago via statuary declaration without adverse history at the time and where I completely relinquished my former name subsequent, then surely under English law, any court papers should be served in my current legal name and no other.This is the key point I need an answer too.I am sure there must have been cases in the English High Court where this president has been set / defined and carefully argued.Furthermore, papers have been posted in my former name from the Paris court, that were not signed for by me, simply because they were sent to my former name and the postman returned them to the court unopened.The statuary declaration I originally signed clearly stated that I relinquish the use of my former name, so how can there be legality in a court judgement in a name I legally relinquished 20 years ago.My argument is this, how am I supposed to know when a court hearing is due, when the court papers were sent to an alien name, which I relinquished over 20 years ago and where the court papers were sent back unopened?I appreciate the French legal system is as I believe "Roman law" and different to ours.He is trying to get my blog removed. Wordpress have refused their request and his only option is to get the French court to force me to remove it, which I will not comply.So I want to write to the French court with some presidents already set in English law that prevents me accepting court papers in a name legally relinquished 20 years ago.If I can produce some case studies, I should be able to get the current judgement set aside.If you are unable to help me on this key issue, could you recommend a barrister who has challenged this key issue in the past and/or where he or she may be able to unearth early case law on this key issue.Just for the record, I want a legal fight with this person, but I want it in the London High Court, not Paris.I thank you in advance for any helpful advice.KIndest Regards,Chanson

Thank you. I can’t comment on whether what you have posted is true or not but obviously you are aware that that certainly, in English law any comment which is true, cannot be defamatory. Incidentally, any comments made to a person’s face, are also not defamatory even if they are true.

By not accepting the service of documents, even though they were in the wrong name, there would end up being a judgement in default of your reply albeit in the wrong name. I don’t know whether that causes a problem for you or not. If you wanted to get rid of this judgement, you would then be faced with spending £255 applying to court to get the judgements decide. I don’t know what the position is in France.

Your defence would be that you are not the defendant named and that you didn’t get the papers. The claimant would then make an application to court to amend the defendant’s name to the correct name and the whole process would either start again or carry on from that point.

The action that you taken merely serves to either give you a judgement in the wrong name or delay the process, it doesn’t affect the end result.

Unless the comments were published in France I don’t know why he went to a French court. I don’t know what difference having a judgement in a French court makes to you personally.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.

Best wishes.


F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi FesThank you for your reply.There is a principle at stake here. He started this unpleasantness which was unprovoked by myself.He is a billionaire with a Knighthood, ambassador at large and a criminal. He also owns a national broadsheet newspaper. He is a very powerful individual who dines with the prime minister and has the foreign secretary on his payrol.He knows I have unearthed serious dirt upon him which I intend to publish within his unauthorised biography. That is why is has chosen the French court, which "insults" come under criminal law in France. He once took two times journalists to the French court back in 2006 as defamation is criminal in France unlike in the UK where it is civil. Although they did not defame him, they were not prepared to risk it and withdrew their article.I have limited access to a French advocate and will put your points to them. But it would be helpful if I could obtain some earlier case law in the UK relating solely around service of court papers that later transpired to have been served in a persons former name with the positive outcome of the judgement made earlier later removed or better still annoid?Could you possibly put me in touch with a barrister to assist me from the UK.If I could present some case law on this key issue, it would at least support my defence for not accepting service and or correspondence via the post and accordingly not being fully aware of dates of any such hearings.Then asking the French prosecutor to seek an explanation from the other party why he chose to serve documents in an alien name, which I have evidence he knew different.I then believe I would have a stronger case for this case to be set aside and or annoid.Equally important, it might give me a further opportunity to convince the French prosecutor to have this case dealt with in the London High Court for a number of reasons.Your earlier point questioning why he chose the French court over London has merit and his argument is weak in relation to the bigger picture and only serves him, which also gives him a legal advantage over me rather than an even playing field and not forgetting the quality of his own legal team over me defending myself.As I said earlier, I want the legal fight with him, but in an English court.Without wanting to repeat myself, any help in obtaining some earlier case law that may have set a president on the key issue I wish to present to the French court of my absence to earlier hearings, not being out of rudeness but due to the deliberate attempt by the person instigating these proceedings to put me under further pressure to cease publishing his own wrong doings.i'm up against a real galieth and I do need to demonstrate to the French court by presenting to them some case law rather then simply pleading my case verbally.If time does not permit it, would you kindly give some thought in passing my request for the information required onto a barrister friend of yours who himself might know another barrister who could help provide some case presidents on the key issue I'm attempting to challenge.I'm not questioning your own legal credentials, but I do not wish to attend a French court hearing without something tangible to show why I would not accept documents in my former name.Again, I genuinely thank you in advance for your assistance.Chanson

One of the main points which law students are taught to impress upon their clients is “never go to court on the principle”. Only go to court when you have lost something and you want to be put back into the position that you would have been had that loss not occurred or, go to court to defend any action that someone else brings.

However this doesn’t seem to be a principle, this is defending someone else’s action.

Researching extensive caselaw is extremely time-consuming and a barrister would probably charge you around £200 per hour forum advice in respect of that.

You will be able to find a barrister if you have a look at the Bar Council website although if you speak to the barristers clerk at any barristers chambers, they will be able to point you in the direction to a barrister with the necessary qualifications and expertise.

In my opinion, the wrong name on the service of papers is nothing to hang your hat on because it easy to amend the name and re-serve them. The whole process again because, as I said earlier, all this would do is delay the process. The end result would be the same.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Fesjust to get a few more key points clarified.If the person serves papers upon a persons former name, where that person failed to accept such papers due to a legal name change years earlier and a court judgement was issued against that person then can it be enforced?I have been informed minor damages were awarded to the claimant via the Paris criminal court and that my blogs were ordered to be removed.I have heard that the claimant is threatening to enforce the judgement for minor damages through the English courts.It will be interesting to see if these proceedings will be in my current legal name or my former name. If proceedings are in my former name, do I have the right to refuse such papers, be it via service or post, taking into account I had to legally relinquish my former name back in 1992 via statuary declaration?With regards ***** ***** not complying to the French court ruling, the fact my blogs are still online, I have been informed this could result in a possible prison sentence for contempt of court?But my issue is that both the court papers were served in my former name and as such I refused to accept both service and refused to sign post in my former name. Accordingly, the Paris court ruling is not enforceable?Is this correct?In which case, the claimant will have to restart the process in my legal name?If the claimant instructed the Paris court to issue an international arrest warrant in my former name, could this be enforceable?I have also been informed the claimant is threatening to go to the English courts to seek the damages awarded to them by the Paris court. If the they go ahead with this and again the papers were issued in my former name, which I would refuse on the grounds my former name since 1992 had been relinquished and as such, I would refuse to accept service, would the English court accept this?If a bailiff turned up at my address with a judgement against my former name, could this be enforceable?Final point:Letters sent to me are in my former name only, which have been returned unsigned to the sender by the post office.Servers who have attend my home have addressed me by my former name only and as such I informed them this is not me. They then throw the lose court papers onto the floor and left. My father later picked them up and informed me that on the paper work, it is addressed as:MR Craig Leslie Tuck (calling himself Lord de chanson))Lord de Chanson has been my legal name since 1992 and relinquished my former name on that date. BY the suggestion I'm calling myself LORD de CHANSON suggests it is an alias name, when in fact it is my legal name.Can you give advice on this technicality?KIndest regards,ChansonI
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi FesJust to make clear, I am the victim by the claimant since 2008 to the present day, but chose to seek redress by establishing blogs and exposing them.I want the fight with them, but as explained earlier, I want it in the English court.Should I write to the Paris court to inform them of the incorrect process of service and as such the judgement needs to be set aside and for the claimant to re-serve the paperwork in my legal name?Chanson

If the documents were returned to sender, then they are not validly served. If they were dropped through the letterbox and then you popped them back into the mailbox writing onto them “return to sender” then they are still validly served because you had them before you return them.

If however they are simply dropped through the letterbox, or dropped at your feet because you refuse to take them off the person, they are validly served because the physical being of the person on the documents is the same physical being regardless of the description.

You could argue that you are not the same person if it gets to court but it’s not a convincing argument because the court is more likely to be involved with the physical being.

You can refuse to accept service of papers even if they are in the correct name.

I can’t comment on decisions in French courts obviously but in some jurisdictions, defamation is criminal.

Any damages awarded in a French court are generally enforceable in the UK court. There are reciprocal arrangements in place.

Bailiffs can only turn up at your address in the UK if there is a warrant of control in respect of the debt, which has been issued by a UK court.

If the papers were dropped on the floor of your house, because your father opened the door, those papers are validly served. By all means argue that the proceedings are invalid and let the court decide whether the name is ***** ***** or not but, as I have already made the point, all that’s likely to do is delay things while the papers are reissued or he makes an application to change the name.