Nominet plans to slash expert fees

UK domain name registrar Nominet is considering changes to its dispute resolution policy that could see it reduce fees by more than two-thirds for its expert decision service.

An expert decision costs the claimant £750, whether the claim is contested or not. But now Nominet is considering lowering that fee to £200 if the other side fails to submit any documentation. It would also automatically award the contested domain name to the claimant.

For the past month Nominet has held an open consultation on whether to implement the change, and will make a decision early next year.

Nominet senior legal counsel Nick Wenban Smith said: “Maybe this is something we should do given we’ve had a lot of complaints from people who’ve had to pay £750 and the other side hasn’t shown up. On the other hand, we need protection against people pursuing claims on a speculative basis. A lot of people are unhappy that absence means guilt.”

A judgment from an independent expert is a last resort if traditional mediation fails. Of the 161 cases that went to an expert over the past year, 109 were not contested. More than 95 per cent of uncontested cases went in favour of the claimant.

Nominet currently has a 37-strong panel of experts, including Herbert Smith IP head Nick Gardner and trademark guru Tony Willoughby, but is seeking 10 more to cope with increased demand for the service.