06 October 2008

Domain Names: suttonlibdems.org.uk

There is a tantalizingly brief report of a decision by Nominet panellist Bob Elliott in a domain name dispute brought by the Sutton Borough Liberal Democrats against the Carshalton and Wallington Constituency Labour Party (see Sutton Borough Liberal Democrats v Carshalton & Wallington Constituency Labour Party [2008] DRS 6026 (26 September 2008) .

The poor old respondents don't seem to have a website of their own, poor things, and even if they did how much traffic would it get nowadays.    So just as their Chancellor took his lead from Vince Cable when looking for a solution to Northern Rock the Carshalton and Wallington CLP registered suttonlibdems.org.uk as a domain name.   Very understandable since they came a poor third in the last general election:

Turnout: 43061 (64%)

40.3%
 
Liberal Democrat: 17357 (−4.7%)
37.8%
 
Conservative: 16289 (+4%)
17.2%
 
Labour: 7396 (−1.2%)

.... and their electoral prospects have not exactly soared since then despite the heroic efforts of Mrs Gordon Brown in my home town two weeks ago.

Alas for them Gerry Jerome of the local Liberal Democrats referred the case to Nominet under the Dispute Resolution Service Policy who decided the claim in his favour. Unfortunately, Nominet's decisions are pretty brief compared to those that WIPO panellists have to write (eg buy-tamiflu-online.com).   I should have loved to have read the arguments. There is free mediation in  Nominet disputes. How the Labour Party allowed the case to continue the Lord only knows. And by "the Lord" I am not referring to the new Secretary of State for Business even though he is called Peter. Perhaps the explanation for this gaff is hubris.

2 comments:

David Rose said...

The tactics of local Labour Parties have always been both underhand and thuggish. My only surprise on this issue was the level of imagination used in registering the Domain. It is a useful reminder that you should draw attention to the matter.

It is my view that the registration of a Domain which the public would associate with a Political Party, by anyone other than that Party, should be penalised in Law - perhaps through Electoral law. No expert in the field, I suspect that present Electoral Law might give grounds for action were an Election in progress, but not at other times. I cannot see the present Government taking any action to counter such abuse where that issue has been raised by the misbehaviour of a local Labour Party.

I understand the financial and other barriers to access to Justice in such a case have averted by a recourse to Nominet, at a cost of several hundreds rather than tens of thousands. But as those involved in local Politics or other local voluntary affairs will understand, this comparatively small sum represents a substantial proportion of funding available to the organisation.

Jane Lambert said...

Thanks David.

David referred to the cost of the procedure. Yesterday , I commented on the brevity of Bob Elliott's decision comparing it unfavourably to a WIPO decision. I have just revisited the DRS help page for the first time in some weeks (http://www.nominet.org.uk/disputes/drs/help/) and see that a summary decision is available where the respondent does not enter a defence for £200. That is still quite a lot of money which the local Lib Dems could otherwise have spent on campaigning but nothing like as much as the £750 that they would have had to stump up under the old rules or the US$1,500 which a complainant would have to pay in an ICANN UDRP dispute.