ZACR dismissed from dotAfrica case, jury trial starts from February 2017


South Africa’s ZA Central Registry (ZACR) has been dismissed as a party to the on-going dotAfrica gTLD case, meaning that the firm is now excluded from the case.

ZA Central Registry (ZACR) was enjoined in the case by DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust in February this year after DCA – as the Plaintiff – filed an filed a First Amended Complaint (FAC) against the Defendants Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and ZACR, jointly or collectively as the “Defendants”.

In the FAC, DCA made 4 claims against ZACR – Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud; Unfair Competition; Intentional Interference with Contract; and Declaratory Relief (that the registry agreement between ZACR and ICANN is null and void and that ZACR’s application does not meet ICANN standards (This arises out of a dispute involving the delegation of rights related to the .Africa top-level domain).

Later, ZACR moved to court to have the all the four claims made against it by DCA dismissed.

And in a ruling delivered on June 14 at the US District Court, Central District of California by Gary Klausner, the court granted all of ZACR’s Motion to Dismiss, thereby dismissing all the claims brought forward by DCA and subsequently excluding the firm from the on-going case, effectively leaving ICANN as the sole Defendant in the matter.

“As a threshold matter, Plaintiff has failed to state any other substantive basis for liability against ZACR. The claim for declaratory relief fails on this basis alone. Additionally, however, the Court finds Plaintiff’s first request against ZACR (i.e., that the Court declare the registry agreement null and void) unnecessary, as a favorable ruling on its claims against ICANN will result in the relief it seeks. As to the second request (i.e., that the Court declare that ZACR’s application does not meet ICANN’s standards), the Court finds that regardless of the existence of a separate substantive basis for liability, there is an insufficient nexus between the relief requested and the alleged wrongful conduct,” stated Judge Klausner in the ruling.

On June 7, the District Court  set February 28, 2017 as the date when the case will begin a jury trial (which is estimated to last between 10 to 12 days).

Meanwhile, an appeal filed by ICANN will be heard from June 29 by ICANN’s opening brief followed by DCA’s answering brief a month later on July 29.