The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services has, with effect from earlier this month, on 10 November 2017, officially amended the regulations in respect of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act No. 25 of 2002, as amended (hereinafter the “ECT Act”). These amendments have been substantially influenced by the United Kingdom Dispute Resolution System (UK DRS).

These amendments are well received by the public and role players in the telecommunications sector, however, there appears to be a certain extent of uncertainty as to how the amendments will be practically implemented. The amended ZA Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations (ZA DRS Regulations), as it is commonly known in the industry, will still need to be incorporated into the South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) Supplementary Procedures, which, to date, has not been done. There are a number of commercial law aspects that need to be considered when choosing your domain, and if there are disputes, it could further influence the company’s cash flow and operational effectiveness, hence us placing such importance on well regulated alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, rather than getting involved in costly civil litigation. One example of the amendments is that the possible decisions that an adjudicator can reach have been expanded to include cancellation of the disputed domain name. Asking for this is of course risky, if you’re acting for the complainant, given that the domain will probably fall back into the pool of available domains.