ICANN clarifies redemption fee rules

On December 17 2009 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) published an "Advisory Concerning Posting of Registrar Fees for Restoring Deleted Domain Names". The purpose of this announcement was to clarify a provision of the Expired Domain Deletion Policy (EDDP) in relation to the fees charged by registrars for redeeming domain names in what is known as the 'redemption grace period'. The EDDP is incorporated into the ICANN Registrar Accreditation Agreement at Section 3(7)(5), and thus its provisions dealing with the treatment of expired domain names are mandatory for all ICANN-accredited registrars.
According to the agreement, a redemption fee may be charged by registrars to registrants when a domain name enters the redemption grace period following its deletion (eg, as a result of non-renewal). The redemption grace period lasts for 30 days. During this time, the original registrant can recover the domain name by paying any redemption fee to the registrar, as well as the usual one-year standard renewal fee. The redemption fee will vary depending on the registrar, the only condition being that the registrar must abide by the rules set out in Section 3(7)(5) of the agreement.
ICANN's advisory announcement states that there is no limit on the fees chargeable for domain name redemption, but reminds registrars that the agreement requires them to publish the amount of any fee on their website. According to the agreement, any such fee "must be clearly displayed on the website" and it must be posted "both at the time of registration and in a clear place on [the] website".
The ICANN advisory was published following an announcement made by registrar eNom on December 3 2009 stating that it had increased its redemption fee to $250. This was criticized for being far too high. In addition, in accordance with Section 3(7)(5)(6) of the agreement, such an increase could apply only to those domain names registered after the new fee was posted on the eNom website, and not to those registered beforehand. It thus seems that ICANN has decided to remind registrars of their pricing obligations towards registrants by publishing the advisory announcement.
David Taylor, Lovells LLP, Paris

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