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I'm voluneering with a small local charity whose website was put up by a "volunteer". In the meantime, he has fallen out with everyone and is charging £8 per month to host their site on his servers. The charity also pays all expenses. He is also being very dogmatic about what can and can't go on the site. The charity was very naive when they set up the site and there is nothing in writing, but the web designer has put the domain name in his own name. The charity intends to ask him to transfer the domain name to them. However, in the case that he becomes difficult, which we suspect he will, what is our best course of action? It's a .com domain. (I'd prefer not to name and shame in a forum such as this.)
We are going to register the same name but with .org, however, it's a hassle to change everything. All the people who have the .com email, the other websites that link to us, the stationery and even the name board outside the office.
and see if your suspicions are indeed correct.
As to the Why? Well in my mind it takes his power away. If you ask once and he says no, you then pursue the .org route only and just don't deal with him ever again. Less stress all round.
One e-mail to everyone lets them know the change.
If you are lucky he might even see the futility of keeping the name and give it back after some time of not being able to 'fight' you. Which I get the impression he prefers to do.
I would prefer the 'Hassle to change everything' to giving him the pleasure of being dogmatic with you for months. Move forward with full control in your own hands.
Pity this is a .com as the nominet dispute team are generally helpful. Even though this is outside their remit, still worth talking to their dispute resolution service click here they may spare the time regardless for a charity.
You could also contact those who would deal with a .com, the Icaan domain dispute section click here
There are short cuts they can take other than the full, rigid resolution procedure but much of this is still handled by third parties such as WIPO and there can be fair costs involved.
Another option is one of the two UK website dispute units, this one click here offers free advice apparently so would be better than the DOJ helpline (to a privatised unit), whose own site seems invisible at present anyway.
This isn't entirely my field but one thing I can confirm is that the fact someone has a domain registered to them does not always mean they have the right to keep that. This is a common situation with web designers and clients who don't think (or know) and many have been forcibly transferred.
when none might arise?
I suggest that you go ahead and ask this person to transfer the domain registration. If he refuses he'll need to justify his action, and that will be quite difficult, I imagine.
If he does refuse the charity can take legal action to recover the name, and the first - and very often successful - step is to get a solicitor to send a letter. There is something called the 'Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy' that was specifically designed to deal with cases such as yours, and your solicitor might consider that it's worth referring to in the letter.
The dispute resolution process can be a little involved and drawn out, and my advice is that you rely on it as a last resort, when all other avenues have been explored. Your claim would be that this man has no rights or legitimate interests in the name, and from what you've said you would succeed.
Try the direct approach first, and if he digs his heels in you might mention that you have been advised you can force the transfer of the name. Once you have the name transferred you can move it to another web host - one of your choosing.
Thanks for all the advice. We are buying a .org.uk name in any case and will get that prepared just in case he gets really awkward and refuses to host the old site any more. (He really is very awkward.) Best to have a backup plan in place. Hopefully we are worrying about nothing.
The office manager is on holiday at the moment and we will ask for our name when he gets back in a couple of weeks. When we eventually get it back, we will park the two names together.
Thanks again for all your sensible advice.
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