Below you'll find an explanation of the main features of the Dispute Resolution System (DRS). You can either view this document as a whole or refer to the sections below for help on specific issues.
In addition to the help provided here, you might also find it useful to look at our brochure and our Guide to DRS Expert Decisions. Our system has been in operation since 2006 and we have now built up a useful body of knowledge through the decisions that have been published.
Our experience has shown that “The most common reasons for an Expert to find against a party (either complainant or respondent) is a failure to supply any evidence to back up their assertions and explain in detail the situation. Whatever the facts of the situation, your case is only as good as your Complaint or Response.”
When a complaint is received, the current registrant of the .nz domain name is sent a letter (by post and email) advising them of the complaint and inviting them to put forward a response. If they choose to submit a response, then a mediator will be appointed to attempt to facilitate a resolution to the dispute.
If the current registrant, who is known as ‘the respondent’ does not put forward their point of view, then fees for an Expert Determination will be requested from the person laying the complaint, ‘the complainant’. If those fees are paid, the Expert will make a decision. If no appeal is lodged, then the decision will be implemented. If the decision is appealed, then an appeal panel will make a final and binding determination.
The operation of the DRS does not prevent the submission of the dispute to a New Zealand court. If the matter before the DRS does go before the courts, all action under the DRS is suspended.
In order to process your complaint, response, or reply we need contact details and some additional information about the domain name that is in dispute. The forms ask you to enter as much information as you can. You can move through the pages using your mouse, or by using the keys on your keyboard.
If you are not certain what information we really want in a particular field, click the [?] symbol. This will bring up explanatory text in a new window, to assist you to complete the form correctly. There is an explanation for many of the fields in the form.
You may appoint a representative. A representative may be a lawyer, someone else in your company, or just someone you rely on for advice. A representative is not compulsory; however, if you choose to appoint one, we will forward all correspondence to them, rather than to you.
If you still have questions about the process for dispute resolution after reading this document, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) is only suitable for disputes between people or organisations about who should be the registrant of a .nz domain name. Complaints about breaches of .nz policies and procedures need to be referred to the Domain Name Commission at email@example.com.
If you wish to lay a complaint over a registration of a .nz domain name which you view as being unfair, or to respond to a complaint that has been made about your domain name, you need to use our online forms. You can access these by selecting the appropriate menu item to the left of the page. Once you've submitted a complaint, you will need to print it, and sign it, before sending it and all your supporting materials to us.
We advise you to write your complaint first in a Word document or similar. Writing it on-line may take some time and risks the loss of your Internet connection and what you have written.
Structure of the Complaint
The complaint argument section of the form is the most important part of your submission. In some instances, this may be the only opportunity you have to convey your evidence to the Expert.
You have up to 2,000 words to state your argument.
If your complaint is referred to an Expert, he or she will determine the outcome of the dispute based on the information provided in this section, including any annexes you supply to support your case. The Expert’s decision will be based on two factors:
• you have rights to a name which is identical or similar to the domain name in dispute; and
• the registration of the domain name by the current registrant is unfair.
To succeed, you must prove that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ both factors are present.
Definitions of terms such as ‘rights in a name’ and ‘unfair registration’ are provided in the policy. (Section 3 of part A)
The annexes you supply to support your complaint may include items such as:
• letterhead and advertising material showing your use of the name;
• birth or marriage certificates for personal names;
• trade marks or designs registered with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand; or
• relevant information from the Companies Offices etc.
You can send as many annexes as you believe you need to support your case, and you can send them to us in hard copy – you are not required to attach them electronically to the complaint. Annexes are not to be used to override the 2,000 word limit for the complaint.
A group of individuals or organisations can make a complaint. If a group is making your complaint, then each of you should sign the complaint form. One of you must take responsibility for the complaint (we refer to this person as the lead complainant). You need to decide ahead of time which person will become the registrant of the domain name if the resolution of the dispute results in a transfer of the name.
What happens when you submit your complaint?
We check it thoroughly, to make sure that your complaint complies with our policy and procedure. For example, we need to be sure that the complaint is about a .nz domain name, names the current registrant correctly, and that you have provided four copies of your documents.
If your complaint does not comply with the policy and procedure, we will send it back to you, and you have three days to return it to us. If you do not meet the deadline, the complaint will be withdrawn, but you may submit another complaint if you wish to.
Once we have a valid complaint, we send it to the current registrant of the domain name, along with a letter explaining what is happening, our brochure describing the Dispute Resolution Service and a copy of the Policy and Procedure.
Every time we send a letter to the current registrant, we will send a copy of that letter to the complainant. Similarly, all correspondence with the complainant will be copied to the current registrant. If an Expert is appointed to determine the dispute, the Expert will receive a copy of all the letters that have been sent during the process.
If you wish to file a response to a complaint that has been made against you over a registration of a .nz domain name, you need to use our online forms. You can access these by selecting the appropriate menu item to the left of the page.
You must submit your response within 15 working days of the date of notification of the complaint. The deadline for your response will be clearly shown in the letter telling you about the complaint.
A response is not compulsory. If you do not submit a response, however, the dispute over the registration of your domain name may be referred to an Expert for determination. If you have not submitted a response, the Expert will make a determination based solely on the information provided in the complaint. If you feel that your registration of the domain name is not unfair, you should provide a response. You will not have any further chance to submit a response at a later stage in any proceedings.
Structure of the Response
The response argument section of the form is the most important part of your submission. This will be the only opportunity you have to convey your evidence to the Expert.
You have up to 2,000 words to state your argument.
If your dispute is referred to an Expert, he or she will determine the outcome of the dispute based on the information provided in this section, including any annexes you supply to support your case. You need to show that you have, for example:
• used or made demonstrable preparations to use the Domain Name or a Domain Name which is similar to the Domain Name in connection with a genuine offering of goods or services;
• been commonly known by the name or legitimately connected with a mark which is identical or similar to the Domain Name; or
• made legitimate non-commercial or fair use of the Domain Name.
There may be other relevant factors you wish to quote. Refer to paragraph 6 of the policy. Definitions of terms such as ‘rights in a name’ and ‘unfair registration’ are also provided in the policy. (Section 3 of part A).
The annexes you supply to support your response may include items such as letterhead and advertising material showing your use of the name, birth or marriage certificates for personal names, trade marks and designs registered with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or the Companies Offices etc. You can send your annexes to us in hard copy – you are not required to attach them electronically to the complaint.
We require four copies of the signed response, and four copies of any annexes provided to support your argument.
What happens when you submit your response?
We send it to the person who laid the complaint about your registration of the domain name.
Every time we send a letter to the complainant, we will send a copy of that letter to you. Similarly, all correspondence with you will be copied to the complainant. If an Expert is appointed to determine the dispute, the Expert will receive a copy of all the letters that have been sent during the process.
This is an opportunity for the complainant to address matters raised in a response. If you wish to file a reply to a response received about your dispute, you need to again use our online forms. You can access these by selecting the appropriate menu item to the left of the page.
You must submit your reply within 5 working days of the date of notification of the response. The deadline for your reply will be clearly given in the letter included with the response documentation.
Structure of the Reply
The reply argument section of the form is an important part of your submission. This will be the final opportunity you have to convey your evidence to the Expert. You may only address issues that have arisen in the response. You may not introduce any new arguments in the reply.
You have up to 2,000 words to state your argument.
You may supply further annexes at this point if you wish. The annexes you supply to support your reply may include items such as letterhead and advertising material showing your use of the name, birth or marriage certificates for personal names, trade marks or designs registered with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or the Companies Offices etc. You can send your annexes to us in hard copy – you are not required to attach them electronically to the complaint.
We require four copies of the signed reply, and four copies of any annexes provided to support your argument.
The Dispute Resolution Service offers an informal mediation process using independent mediators. Mediation is a FREE service provided under the Dispute Resolution Service. There is no fee involved for either the complainant or respondent.
The mediation is voluntary and any agreements reached within mediation must be in writing in order for them to be enforceable. Mediation is completely confidential; any information that comes to light within the mediation process will not be shown to the Experts or to any other third party unless approved by both parties.
Mediation can only take place if the current registrant has filed a response to the complaint laid against them within the required timeframe. The complainant will also be given an opportunity to reply. In situations where both parties are willing to enter mediation, the mediation period will not exceed ten working days.
If mediation is not successful, the complainant will be offered the opportunity to refer the complaint for an Expert’s Determination. Further information about Expert Determination is available on the Experts page.
If mediation results in a settlement where the domain name is to be transferred from one party to the other, it is for the parties themselves to contact the registrar and process the change of registrant.
What is a mediator?
Mediators are a neutral third party and attempt to facilitate a settlement between disputing parties. The mediators will not try and represent either party’s interests, nor will they offer legal advice to either party.
The mediator is there to get information from the parties in an effort to identify common ground. They will attempt to create options for a settlement of the dispute in question. Disputes can settle in a variety of ways - sometimes quite creatively. Some disputes settle with the name changing hands, but not all disputes resolve that way. Other options include links and diversions, neither party using the name, disclaimers published on webpages, or a settlement of any broader issues that were behind the domain name dispute.
Expert Determination is one of several steps taken in an effort to resolve a dispute over who should be the registrant of a domain name.
A dispute can be referred to an Expert in either of two circumstances:
• the registrant does not file a response to the initial complaint and the complainant pays a fee of $2,000 plus GST; or
• mediation between the two parties (see Mediators page) does not result in a settlement, and the complainant pays a fee of $2,000 plus GST.
Experts consider only the information provided by the parties in the submissions made through the Dispute Resolution Service process. This will always include the original complaint. The response and reply will only be included if these have been submitted. The Expert will consider all annexes provided with submissions, and may visit websites where these have been specified in the submissions. If a dispute has been through the mediation process, any notes or information arising from mediation will not be considered by the Expert without the express consent of both parties.
In some circumstances, the Expert may ask the parties for further information. In that case, the information will always be copied to the other party. This is called a non-standard submission, and information about this type of submission and how to make one is contained in Section B12.2 of the policy.
The decision reached by the Expert will be communicated to both parties, and will be published in full on the Decisions page. If a transfer is ordered, the Domain Name Commission implements that decision according to the Expert's directions, after the appeal period has passed.
If either the person who made the complaint, or the current registrant of the name is not satisfied with the outcome of the dispute following an Expert Determination, an appeal can be lodged.
Appeals can be lodged in one of two ways.
• Submit a notice of intent to appeal, along with a non-refundable deposit ($800 + GST) within 10 working days of the Expert's decision, and then follow this with the balance of the fees ($6,400 + GST) and the full appeal within a further 15 working days.
A notice of intent to appeal should be a simple letter or email indicating that you wish to appeal, but not giving the details of the reasons why the appeal would be lodged. The details should be included in the full appeal, and submitted, with the balance of the fee, within the 15 working day deadline.
• Submit a full appeal and pay the full fee ($7,200 + GST).
A full appeal should be submitted as a written document. It must be signed, and sent to the Domain Name Commissioner within 10 working days of the parties being advised of the Expert's decision. The appeal document should explain your full reasons for appealing, but should not include new evidence or attachments. You have up to 1,000 words to state the basis for your appeal. Unlike the complaint, response and reply that were submitted earlier, there is no electronic form for submitting an appeal.
If an appeal is lodged, the other party has the opportunity to submit a response to the appeal document, and is also limited to 1,000 words. The appeal response should be a written document, signed and sent to the Domain Name Commission. The response must be lodged within 10 working days and should set out the grounds why the appeal should be rejected, but as with the appeal document, it must not contain new evidence or attachments.
Appeals are considered by a panel of three Experts, who have 30 working days to reach a final and binding decision. Both parties will be advised of the outcome, and the Domain Name Commission will implement the decision. You cannot appeal an appeal panel decision.
Effect of Court Proceedings
The operation of the Dispute Resolution Service does not prevent the submission of the dispute to a New Zealand court. If the matter before the DRS does go before the courts, all action under the DRS is suspended.
For a dispute involving 1 - 5 domain names and only one complainant the applicable fees for referral to an Expert are $2,000 + GST.
The applicable fees for the submission of an appeal are $7,200 + GST.
For disputes involving 6 or more domains names, and / or more than one complainant the DNC will set a fee in consultation with the complainant.
Fees are payable by the complainant only if an acceptable resolution has not been achieved after informal mediation and the DNC has notified the parties that an expert is to be appointed.
For any further questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org