German court shoots down triple-barrelled names

6th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The plaintiff had argued that a law passed in 1993 to ban couples from stringing more than two family names together violated their personal rights.

Karlsruhe -- A German married couple, the Thalheim-Kunz-Hallsteins, lost a battle before the country's top court Tuesday to defend the use of triple-barrelled names.

The plaintiff, a woman born Frieda Thalheim, had argued that a law passed in 1993 to ban couples from stringing more than two family names together violated their personal rights.

She had aimed to affix the last name of her husband, Hans-Peter Kunz-Hallstein, to her own maiden name, under which she had established a successful dentistry practice.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled five-to-three that banning unwieldy names was "reasonable," noting that Thalheim had the right to use her maiden name professionally and her legal, married name in other settings.

It added that names had the function in a society of tracing a family line and that endlessly complicated names would create confusion.

"To this end, the legislative branches created laws to stifle the creation of multiple names," the court said.

Defenders of triple-pronged names had cited as prominent examples champion biathlete Simone Greiner-Petter-Memm and prominent pollster Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann-Maier-Leibnitz, who nevertheless dropped the second half of her family name after her husband died.

AFP/Expatica

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