In a court ruling out of the UK, a British court has ruled against the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s attempt to seize gambling domains.
As you will just over a year ago, before the TRAFFIC NY 2008 show, the the Commonwealth of Kentucky sent a seizure order to the registrars of 141 gambling domain names, demanding that those domains be forfeited to Kentucky. The 141 domains ranged from parked domains, to some of the biggest gambling sites on the Internet.
Pocket Kings Limited which owns the domain and gambling site, Fulltiltpoker.com bought a suit seeking declaratory relief against its registrar Safenames Limited (“Safenames”), and the Commonwealth of Kentucky (note that Safenames.com did NOT turn over the domain to Kentucky).
The British Court ruled that it would not recognize or enforce the orders currently made in the Kentucky proceedings or any subsequent order for the seizure or forfeiture of the domain name.
“English courts have no jurisdiction to entertain an action (I) for the enforcement either directly or indirectly of a penal, revenue or other public law of a foreign state or (2) founded upon an act of state.”
“”So far as I am aware there is no authority on the question whether the forfeiture of assets used in the commission of a crime under local law is to be regarded as penal for the purpose of this rule. Regardless of the categorization of this type of forfeiture as a civil remedy under US law, it seems to me to be a provision distinctly penal in nature, requiring as it does the confiscation without compensation of an asset, on the ground that the owner, or at least the user of it, has been guilty of a criminal offense.
“”I therefore conclude that the Kentucky proceedings are not enforceable in English law as being penal or governmental in nature. It is not therefore necessary for me to consider whether the Kentucky proceedings breached the principles of natural justice.”””
It should be noted that, although Kentucky was served with notice of the proceedings in the British court, they failed to either appear or to submit any brief or other writing argument in the case.
Bottom line if you have your gambling domain registered with Safenames, rest assured, the British court is not going to uphold the seizure order of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
We discussed this last year, having your domains with a non-US registrar can afford you additional protections in some unique situations (although many US registrars have not complied with the seizure order as of yet either, including Moniker.com).
Back in the good old USA, the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the seizure order in January, but the Commonwealth appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court which was to hear oral arguments of the case this month.