New .INDRP Rules – A Step in the Right Direction?

Our Associate, Parth Agrawal discusses “New .INDRP Rules – A Step in the Right Direction?”

India has announced many changes to the rules governing proceedings under the .IN Dispute Resolution Policy (“INDRP”) administered by the Internet Exchange of India (“NIXI”). These changes came into effect on September 16, 2020.

Some of the most pertinent changes in the INDRP are discussed below:

  • Electronic Filing : The NIXI has done away with the requirement that complainants must file hard copies of a complaint and annexures. It is now possible to email a complaint and annexures to the NIXI. However, complainants must continue to also send hard copies of a complaint and annexures to a respondent. This, in our opinion, defeats the very purpose of digitization and ensures that the INDRP process is still not a complete online dispute resolution system. Moreover, it is likely that the owner of a domain name will definitely have an email ID and be reasonably Internet savvy.
  • Limiting the size of Complaint and Annexures: Complaints must be limited to 5,000 words. From a plain reading of the rules, it appears that the 5000-word limit applies to the complaint and annexures,  as opposed to just the legal grounds (as is the case in UDRP proceedings). Moreover, the NIXI has imposed a  100-page limit on the annexures accompanying the complaint. Such restrictions are likely to pose a challenge, especially in cases where a large volume of evidence is required to support a complaint. While arbitrators have been granted discretionary powers to allow complaints and annexures exceeding the word/ page limit, it will need to be seen how such discretion is exercised in a practical setting.
  • Electronic Payment : Under the new rules, the complainant may pay the official fee for the INDRP complaint through electronic bank transfer.

This is certainly a much needed and reformative amendment towards digitalization.

  • Arbitrators Disallowed to Represent Parties in INDRP Matters : A new Code of Ethical Conduct for Arbitrators specifically prohibits arbitrators from representing any party in proceedings under the INDRP.

While this may be a welcome step to ensure impartiality of the INDRP proceedings, law firms which have lawyers who also act as INDRP arbitrators will now require these lawyers to give up their roles as INDRP arbitrators, else the firms will be barred from taking up INDRP matters. This is because the new code explicitly states that arbitrators are “barred from directly or indirectly engaging, soliciting, advising or providing any assistance to any parties in any INDRP domain dispute complaint”.

With Indian courts allowing e-filing of suits, it is certainly a welcome development on the part of NIXI to amend the INDRP to meet the new normal. However, it will need to be seen how these new amendments are practically applied and how they affect the INDRP process.