A new study by DNattorney.com suggests that a handful of domain name arbitrators are appointed to decide a disproportionate amount of cases.
The National Arbitration Forum, which is accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as a Dispute Resolution Provider.
The NAF has administered approximately 10,000 such cases since 1999.
The NAF has about 141 Panelists on its roster.
DNAttorney, after examining case-related data obtained directly from the National Arbitration Forum’s own web site, concluded that certain panelists were appointed to hear a surprisingly large number of cases.
While there is no stated requirement that appointments must be random, many observers and practitioners expect and understood that the process of appointment was random.
The data showed that, for example, that a particular panelist, Carolyn Marks Johnson, presided in approximately 966 cases, the vast majority of which were single-panel cases wherein she was appointed by the NAF and not nominated by any party to the arbitration. This represents nearly 10% of the nearly 10,000 such domain name dispute cases heard by NAF, which is a clearly disproportionate amount if cases are or ought to be randomly distributed to the 141 NAF panelists on the roster.
Zak Muscovitch, a domain name lawyer and publisher of the report, says:
“Greater transparency is required in order to explain the concentration of cases amongst certain panelists. ICANN should revisit the Rules and require that panel appointment is always random. Otherwise, there will be an apprehension of an unfair process amongst some observers and stakeholders who believe that the selection of the panellist is of paramount importance and has a substantial likelihood of affecting the outcome of cases”
The NAF is already fraught with questionable practices, admitting to dirty dealings in Minnesota.
A copy of the report can be found at http://www.DNattorney.com.