Broadly, the answer is no.
I'll explain that more in what follows, but first come the
disclaimers. This is not legal advice. As I'll explain below, before
embarking on any business venture it is important to receive
professional legal advice. As it says at the bottom of this web page,
Google Answers disclaims all responsibility for this information.
What you actually want to do is to sell a legal form, tailored to the
customer's requirements. The phrase deed poll is actually out of date,
but these deeds are still commonly known as such because the public
usually know what it means. It is in fact a Change of Name Deed.
Previously it was necessary to lodge the deed with the Supreme Court,
but now the deed itself can legally constitute evidence of the change
It's a misconception that only solicitors can give legal advice, or
perform legal work. In fact, there are only certain things that can
only be done by a solicitor or similar authorised person, mainly
commencing court proceedings, conveyancing and probate work. Trying to
do these when you are not qualified, and stating you are a solicitor
when you are not, are both serious criminal offences. For more
information see the Solicitors Act 1974.
There are plenty of companies out there that are 'legal stationers'.
You will have noticed that you can buy tenancy agreements etc at shops
like WH Smith. Perhaps the biggest name in the business is
OyezStraker. Indeed, they sell Change of Name deeds online:
So do these companies:
The Law Is
Deed Polls Online
Legal Services Shop
But although you don't need to be legally qualified to sell legal
documents, most legal stationers employ lawyers to draft them in the
first place. If you sell one that you have copied from another source,
then unless you have permission you might be in breach of copyright.
If you draw it up yourself, then you may be liable for any damage
suffered by your customers if it doesn't work properly. I think if
you're setting up a business like this you should obtain legal advice.
This is also necessary simply for the general issues affecting those
who operate a web business, such as the Distance Selling Regulations,
of which most site owners are unaware. You should also be aware of the
number of sites already offering the service.
Make sure when you create your site that you're only offering to sell
exactly what you intend. Actually state that you're not offering legal
services or advice, and perhaps even state that you're not legally
qualified. This all helps guard against potential claims. In a
nutshell, you're selling someone a document with their personal
details put in the gaps. Make sure they don't think they're getting
Also, bear in mind the special circumstances relating to changing
children's surnames. These are subject to special rules under the
Children Act 1989, and are also the most likely to cause contention.
In all circumstances, be sure of what the law is and that you're not
breaching it. My own personal advice would be to write to a solicitor
asking for a quotation for checking the legal status of your business,
providing you with general business advice, and providing
copyright-free precedents that you can use, along with legal advice on
their proper use. It is also essential that the Terms and Conditions
upon which your sales are made are professionally drafted for you to
specifically deal with this kind of product. You don't have to go to a
big firm, try your Yellow Pages. If you receive this advice at least
when it all goes wrong you can try to take action against the
I realise this answer is a little downbeat, but I sincerely wish you
luck with your endeavours. Typing someone's name and address into gaps
in a Word document, then posting it to them and charging £30 is
potentially very lucrative.
All Google Answers Researchers take pride in their answers, and if
there is anything about which you are confused, or if this information
is not what you were after, please first request a clarification of
Google Answers Researcher
Google Search (link above)
- 'Halsbury's Laws of England', Butterworths, 1995
- 'Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents', Reed Elsevier, 2003