Steps Involved in Domain Name Disputes under the auDRP

This article was updated on 19 November 2016.

This article explains the procedure for resolving domain name disputes under the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (or auDRP). The information in this post is based on version (2016-01), which was first published on 15 April 2016.

Who’s involved?

At the outset, it’s probably useful to explain that there are six parties that play a role in any dispute decided under the policy. These are:

  • The Complainant: This is the party who feels aggrieved at the registration of another domain name, and the one who initiates the proceedings.
  • The Respondent: This is the party who has registered the (potentially) offending domain.
  • The Provider: This is an independent provider of dispute resolution services that is approved by the auDA. As of 19 November 2016, there were two providers: the Resolution Institute and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
  • The Panel: This is the party that decides the dispute in accordance with the auDRP. The Panel can consist of either one or three members.
  • The Registrar: This is the auDA accredited body that is authorised to provide services to people who want to register or renew domain names, or make changes to their domain name records. A list of Registrars is available here.
  • The auDA: or .au Domain Administration Ltd, which is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space. It is responsible for putting together the auDRP.

1. Complaint filed

The Complainant files a ‘complaint’. This is a formal document which sets out the alleged facts of the dispute and argues (often with the aid of cases previously decided under the policy) why the offending domain name offends the auDRP.

The document must comply with the requirements of the auDRP and any supplemental rules published by the Provider. When filing the Complaint, the Complainant is also required to pay the prescribed fee to the Provider. Often the Complaint will be drafted by a lawyer, but there is no requirement for a lawyer to be involved.

2. Complaint checked

The Provider reviews the Complaint to ensure that it complies with the technical requirements of the auDRP. If it does comply with these requirements, the Provider forwards the Complaint to the Respondent within three calendar days.

3. Response

The Respondent must file a ‘Response’ within 20 days of receiving the Complaint. This is a formal document which sets out the Respondent’s version of events, and which makes submissions as to why the auDRP has not been breached. It will often contain arguments based on cases previously decided under the auDRP. For this reason, a Response will often be drafted by a lawyer, but it is not compulsory to use a legal representative.

If no response is filed within the time limit, the Panel will make its ruling based on the information provided by the Complainant unless ‘special circumstances’ exist.

4. Panel appointed

The Panel is appointed. The Panel consists of either one or three members.

If the Complainant elects to have a three member panel decide the dispute, the Complainant must pay the entire fee for a three member panel (currently $4,500 where there are five or fewer disputed domains), and the three members are appointed by the Provider.

If the Complainant elects to have a one member panel, the appropriate fee (currently $2,000 where there are five or fewer domains) is paid, and the case will be determined by a single member panel unless the Respondent elects to have it decided by a three member panel.

If the Respondent wishes to use a three member panel, the Complainant and Respondent must each pay half of the full fee (i.e. currently $2,250, assuming there are five or fewer domains).

5. Decision made

The Panel examines the case and the documents, and forwards its written decision to the Provider within 14 days of its appointment. The Panel has the right to take longer in exceptional circumstances.

6. Decision communicated

Within five calendar days of receiving the Panel’s decision, the Provider provides the decision to each Party, the concerned Registrar(s), and the auDA. Unless the Panel determines otherwise, the Provider also publishes the full decision on its website.

7. Decision implemented

Upon receiving the decision, the concerned Registrar(s) must inform each Party, the Provider, and auDA the date for the implementation of the decision in accordance with the Policy.

If the ruling Panel decides that the domain name should be transferred or cancelled, the Registrar must wait a minimum of 10 business days before implementing the decision. This provides the unsuccessful party with a window to initiate legal proceedings (which will also delay the implementation of the decision).