13 February 2012

What's in a name?

Fans of the 'Golden Age of Hollywood' (aka the Studio System) and 1920s/1930s cafe society will recall controversy over US heiresses - the Paris Hiltons of the day - dallying with European aristocrats whose titles may or may not have been genuine and whose charm substantially outweighed their bank balances. Some uncertainty was inevitable when there had been regime change (the Bolsheviks preferred to eliminate the ancien regime rather than affirm emigre claims to noble lineage), archives had been burnt along with country houses, many exiles were poor and some people were simply on the make. Were the dashing Georgian aristos dancing with Barbara Hutton for real? Was LA restaurateur Mike Romanoff (born Hershel Geguzin), a close relative of the late Tsar or simply a food vendor with a gift of the gab? What's in a name ... and how do we assess claims?

With the tagline "His royal highness Prince Alan Djamirze of Circassia is not amused" the SMH notes an identity decision by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal.

The article states that -
A NSW tribunal ruled last week that Mr Djamirze, 40, failed to prove that he was of royal lineage and therefore could not use the business name "HRH Prince Alan Djamirze".

Mr Djamirze, who resides in a less-than-palatial abode in Sydney's Hills district, says the proof to his princely entitlement is contained in his name.

He told The Sydney Morning Herald he was born into the Circassian Royal House of Dja Mirze and that "Mirze" means "Prince of the blood royal".

In finding against Mr Djamirze, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal said people could not register "a business name if the name suggests a connection with a member of a royal family" where no such connection existed.
The judgment is Djamirze v Director General, Department of Services Technology & Administration [2012] NSWADT 17, concerned with the Business Names Act 2002 (NSW).

The Tribunal notes that -
The Respondent registered the business name to the Applicant on 24 August 2010 pursuant to section 5 of the Business Names Act 2002 ("the Act").

However, shortly afterwards, on 14 September 2010, the Respondent sent the Applicant a letter and Notice under section 17(4) of the Act and advised that the business name had been registered inadvertently. The Notice advised that the name should not have been registered because it contravenes clause 6 of the Ministerial Prohibition. The Notice gave the Applicant the opportunity to make written submissions to the Commissioner for Fair Trading in relation to the proposed cancellation of the Registration.

The Applicant provided submissions in response to that invitation. However, the registration of the business name was cancelled on 21 October 2010 and a letter was sent to the Applicant informing him of the cancellation.

The Applicant subsequently sought an Internal Review of the decision to cancel the registration of the business name. The internal review affirmed the original determination. In cancelling the registration of the business name the Respondent has applied a Prohibition Order issued by the Minister for Fair Trading which specifically precludes the registration of a business name if the name suggests a connection with a member of a royal family and the connection suggested does not exist ("the Prohibition Order").

The Applicant has applied to the Tribunal for external review of the decision to cancel the registration of the business name.
The issues for consideration were -
Whether the business name "HRH Prince Alan Djamirze" suggests a connection with a member of a royal family?

Whether there is evidence to prove that the Applicant has royal lineage?

Whether the business name "HRH Prince Alan Djamirze" is capable of registration under the Act?

Whether the cancellation of the registration of the business name was made correctly?
Djamirze stated that -
The title "Mirze/Mirza" is only for those who belong to Royal clans. Title of HRH Prince Alan Djamirze is not a "created" title; it is a social hereditary title, which cannot be established by peerage patents as is not the cultural practice of the Circassians. The Circassians had no kings and Sovereigns of Circassia were the Princes. HRH Prince Alan Djamirze is a prince of Circassia. The social rank is a part of the monarch's name, as is the case of HRH Prince Alan Djamirze, "Dja-Mirze" Dja being the geographical distinction of the prince and Mirze pronounced "MIRZA" the title signifying prince of the blood royal the only hereditary title in Islamic nations ...
A "social hereditary title" would be different to that of Prince Leonard of Hutt or of the self-proclaimed Duchy of Avram (established in Tasmania during 1980 by John Rudge). The Duke apparently holds a Doctorate in Sacred Theology and a Doctorate of Divinity, degrees that I've elsewhere noted were presumably useful when he modestly added to a plethora of titles (including Grand Duke of Avram, Marquis of Mathra, Earl of Enoch, Viscount Ulom and Lord Rama) by appointing himself in 1982 as Cardinal and Archbishop of the Royal See of the Continent of Australia. "His Grace the Duke of Avram" produced his own coins and banknotes from the Royal Bank of Avram, unsurprisingly being smacked by the Australian Federal Police in 1985.

The Tribunal notes that Djamirze provided items in support of his assertion, including -
1. The Applicant's statutory declaration stating that "I am HRH Prince Alan Djamirze";

2. An Affidavit of Identification for HRH Prince Alan Djamirze

3. A letter from the Open Training and education network addressed to "HRH PRINCE ALAN D'JAMIRZE"

4. A letter from the Australian Taxation Office addressed to "HRH PRINCE ALAN D'JAMIRZE"

5. A letter from Centrelink addressed to "Hrh Pr Alan Djamirze"

6. A TAFE student identity card issued in the name of "Hrh Prince Alan Djamirze"

7. An International student identity card issued in the name of "DJAMIRZE HRH PRINCE ALAN"

8. A Westpac Debit card issued in the name of "HRH DJAMIRZE"
That's unsurprising ... some people use Prince as a given name (rather than as a title) and a cascade of identity documents (all you need is an initial 'breeder' document that you can use to spawn others) is common.

The NSW Government persuasively argued that -
[it] accepts that the word "Djamirze" may have historical meaning asserted by the [Mr Djamirze]. However, Ms Lu [for NSW] submits that the Applicant's argument that he is a Prince should be rejected.

Ms Lu concedes that the birth certificate translated by the Russian Translation Services shows the name of the Applicant and his parents, and that the Applicant was born in Ukraine. However, she submits that the birth certificate does not show that the Applicant has royal lineage or that the Ukrainian government has recognised the Applicant as having royal lineage. She argues that as the Ukrainian government is silent on the issue of the Applicant's alleged royal status, the inference to be drawn is that the Applicant is not a Prince, or at least recognised as a Prince.

She submits that if the Applicant is not recognised as a Prince by his birth country or any other Sovereign State, and if the Applicant is unable to satisfy the Tribunal of his royal lineage, by way of evidentiary proof, there is no good public interest policy why the Applicant should be recognised as a Prince at all.

In relation to the notation on the birth certificate that reads "Translator's note: Mirze a title means 'Prince of the blood royal" Ms Lu, submits that this notation does not appear on the original birth certificate. Therefore the Translator has exceeded his role as a Translator by providing his own personal commentary, which is not strictly a translation. She further submits that "Djamirze" is a Circassian word and there is no evidence that the Russian Translator has expertise in the Circassian language. She submits that the Translator has departed from his area of expertise and urges the Tribunal to disregard the notation made by the Translator.

... the Applicant's baptism certificate shows that the Applicant and his parents have royal titles. However, she submits that the baptism certificate cannot be used as evidence to prove royal lineage. This is because it is unclear what primary documents were used, if any, to obtain the baptism certificate. ... the Tribunal would fall into error if it were to accept the baptism certificate, which is a secondary document, as proof of royal lineage.

... there is no evidentiary document to support the information contained in the Applicant's family tree. She also notes that the family tree lacks specificity e.g. the year of birth and death of the individuals.

... the proper proofs of royal lineage may come from formal documents such as those issued by the Sovereign State or the relevant embassies.

Alternatively, [Djamirze] may seek recognition as a member of a royal family from the Protocol and Business Operations, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, or Protocol Branch, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

There is no evidence that the Applicant is recognised as a member of a royal family by the NSW Government or the Australian Government.

The Respondent submits that in the absence of documentary evidence, the Tribunal cannot recognise the Applicant as a member of a royal family. The decision to cancel the registration of the business name "HRH Prince Alan Djamirze" should therefore be affirmed.
The Tribunal concluded that -
It is not in dispute that the business name "HRH Prince Alan Djamirze" suggests a connection with a member of a royal family. The Applicant in fact asserts that he is a member of a royal family - a Circassian Prince.

The Prohibition Order precludes the registration of a business name if the name suggests a connection with a member of a royal family and the connection suggested does not exist. The burden falls on the Applicant to prove that connection.

I have considered all the material that the Applicant has provided in support of his claim. I agree with the Respondent's assessment of that material.

The only primary document that the Applicant has placed before the Tribunal is his birth certificate. That certificate does not show that the Applicant has royal lineage.

As the Respondent has correctly asserted, all the other documents placed before the Tribunal are secondary documents and there is no evidence to show what primary documents were used, if any, to obtain those documents.
In discussing the NSW Tribunal decision the SMH goes on to state that -
Representing himself at the tribunal, Mr Djamirze denied that it was a "created" title. "The Fair Trading Department have these ridiculous demands", Mr Djamirze said yesterday. "They were asking me for documents, for letters from the English Queen. Where does an indigenous Circassian man go to get a document saying he is a prince?"

Circassia, in the Northern Caucasus, ceased to exist after the Russians took over their land in 1864, he said.

Mr Djamirze is the son of the colourful businessman Viktor Djamirze, a one-time bankrupt whose business partners have included the convicted corporate criminal Alan Bond, the murdered businessmen Michael McGurk and Moses Obeid, the son of the controversial ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

In 1994 Mr Djamirze's father and several uncles entered into a $4 billion deal with then bankrupt Mr Bond to buy a cache of violins and several kilograms of osmium-187, a weapons-grade radioactive isotope used in the manufacture of stealth bombers.

However, their arms dealing and musical enterprise with Mr Bond, who later went to jail, came to naught.
Can't go wrong with radioactive stuff and violins!
A decade later the Djamirzes had a new partner in Michael McGurk. This venture ended in acrimony over the rightful ownership of a 400-year-old miniature Koran in a jewel-encrusted case which Viktor Djamirze had obtained from an ex-KGB contact.

The whereabouts of the Koran, which McGurk tried to sell to the Sultan of Brunei for $8 million, are unknown. ''The secret's gone with Mr McGurk,'' Alan Djamirze said, referring to McGurk's 2009 murder. ...

Some past business ventures of the Djamirzes have failed to fly including an attempt to piggyback a Russian spacecraft to Australia on the back of a colossal Russian aeroplane and the establishment of an international cargo airline using old Russian Antonov planes.