05 December 2018

Dutch court rejects age-fluid case

A Dutch man who requested to change his age, because he feels younger, has his application denied.

A Dutch district court denied a request by Emile Ratelband to change his date of birth to reflect the age he says he feels, which is 49, rather than his actual age, 69. The court found that there was no scope in legislation or case law to allow such a ruling.

Age-related duties

In denying his request, the court stated 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. The court said it could 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. If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.’ While the court acknowledged people may feel fit and healthy, it is not ‘a valid argument for amending a person’s date of birth.’ The court further stated that maintaining accurate information in the public registers was a priority, and that amending Mr Ratelband’s age would cause 20 years of records to vanish from those registers.

Feeling younger

The court stated Mr Ratelband had failed to substantiate his claim that he suffers from age discrimination, and there are other alternatives open for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a 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, the court noted. The priority must be to ensure that the public registers contain accurate factual information.