Domain Name Jurisdiction Challenged

Thursday 5th July 2012

In 2006 the New Zealand Domain Name Commission, the body that administers .nz domain names, established a dispute resolution procedure.

A recent Dispute Resolution Service decision was a first for one of the experts deciding .nz domain name complaints, Sir Ian Barker QC. In this case the respondent disputed the jurisdiction of the Commission.

The respondent, Irae Family Trust, registered the domain name on May 14 2008. On November 15 2011 the complainant, Allphone Retail and AMT Group filed a complaint with the Commission.

Irae Family Trust was given until December 15 2011 to file its response. Tim Jackson, a trustee of the Irae Family Trust, sent a response disputing the requirement for a response to be filed in the prescribed manner. Jackson also disputed the Commission’s jurisdiction in the case.

He refused to provide a response until clear evidence of the Commission’s jurisdiction and extent of legal authority was received.

As the respondent did not file a response the Commission treated the complaint as undefended and instructed the expert to make a decision. Jackson again emailed the Commission maintaining that the respondent was not obliged to file a response in the prescribed manner.

As the expert’s jurisdiction had been challenged, he was obliged to consider this issue, despite the respondent’s failure to file a response. Even after 12 years of experience in deciding domain name disputed, the jurisdictional challenge was a first for the expert.

The decision reviewed the manner in which the domain name was first registered and subsequently renewed. In all cases of registration and renewal Barker noted that as part of the registration process the registrant signed the standard form agreement with the registrar. The dispute resolution policy was clearly detailed within the registration agreement and the respondent had also acknowledged in the registration agreement that it had read and understood the policies.

Once the issue of jurisdiction had been reviewed the expert went on to examine the merits of the complaint and upheld it.

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