Open Letter to Nominet Members

Dear Nominet Member,

We urge you to Vote Against the proposed constitutional changes that you will be receiving this week. This is important and here is why:

(1) Domain Registration Overpayments – In recent years Nominet has increased wholesale domain registrations from £2.50 to £3.90. Those were done using weighted voting, which we believe breaks company law. That would make the price rises void.

That’s around £88 million of your money that we believe Nominet has collected unlawfully. Add to that an ongoing Annual Overpayment of around £15.5 million.

Even Nominet now admits it has been acting outside its powers since 1996.  This needs the certainty of a court decision, there is too much at stake to be trying to sweep things under the carpet. The responsible and legitimate option is to get that sorted properly BEFORE any changes are made that try to cover up the existing problem.

(2) Subscriptions – Nominet has not had the power to charge subscriptions since August 1997. Nominet accepts it has been acting outside its powers since then and also lost a court case on this. It is now trying to have the decision reversed. It failed to mention this during the consultation process, failing to give members the relevant information. As things stand, we estimate up to £4.5 million pounds has been collected unlawfully from members and is due to be refunded to them. Also, any change of subscription fees can only be done by written resolution with one member, one vote.

(3) Weighted Voting – If weighted voting is unlawful, it can’t legally be used to rewrite the Nominet constitution. Just as it should not have been used to change the powers to raise domain pricing in the past. You can’t use a broken tool to fix a problem. The board can’t use broken voting rights to vote their way out of this issue. The company is leaving itself open to future legal challenge and the cost and expense of reversing these proposed changes.

Thanks to our campaign, Nominet has agreed that it has been operating outside of its constitutional powers since 1996. Chair Andy Green finally accepts that there is “a gap between the Articles originally drafted in 1996 and our current practice”. The way to fix that is not to try to airbrush over that abuse of power. It is to deal with it properly and then look at fixing the broken constitution.

Nominet says the way to fix it is to write a new constitution, using the voting mechanism that is a big part of the problem it now admits. That’s so wrong legally, we don’t know where to start. To fix this, we first need to know what’s broken and what the actual legal situation is. If Nominet has received members’ money without having the power to do so, it should be paid back. If weighted voting breaks the law and it’s one member one vote, then any changes need to be voted through using that.

Nominet can’t just pretend there’s nothing wrong and try to push through these changes.

Please Vote Against! Every Vote Counts!
19th September 2023