Court Orders Nominet to Repay Member Subscriptions

Nominet has lost a claim for the refund of its membership fees, brought by one of its members.

Nominet did not offer any defence to the claim. 

The court ordered that Nominet has to repay the joining fee, subscriptions and court fees in full.

Last year, Weighted Voting provided Nominet with two opinions from Iain Mitchell KC.  Mr Mitchell concluded:

…subscriptions which were collected ought not to have been paid.

Nominet falsely claimed to have answered that in their own KC’s opinion, but Andy Green admitted at last year’s AGM, that wasn’t true.

Now they have failed to offer the court any reason why they think joining and subscription fees are valid.  Instead, faced with a detailed claim form, they accepted that the claim was valid and allowed a default judgement to be made by the court against them.

Nominet directors, including Chair Andy Green, were notified of the claim in a members call in July.  So they had additional notice of  the claim, in addition to being served with the proceedings at their registered office.

To quote from the judgement:

You must pay the claimant the total of £1,030.00 forthwith

The Claim was made on the basis that fees were previously paid

on the false premises that the company had a bye-law set under Article 19 and 52.1 of the company to collect the subscription fees

To quote from the particulars of claim:

If no Bye-law exists setting the subscription fee that was taken from me, then no subscription fee was due under the Company’s Articles, the fees demanded from me amounts to unjustified enrichment of the Respondent, as the membership of the company is effectively free.

We take Nominet’s failure to defend the claim as an admission that there is no legal justification for charging joining and subscription fees.  

It means Weighted Voting was right about this.  

We also believe we are right about the voting rights issue we also raised.

We call on Nominet to state publicly that it has no right to charge joining and subscription fees. This year’s subscriptions have just been charged, so they need to act urgently to deal with this. 

We also call on the company to repay in full all members the fees that they have paid.  We estimate this amounts to around £5 million.