Ok, where do we start……Over the years we’ve not made it a secret that we highly recommend that businesses especially should register their domain names independently. Allowing your Web designer to register your businesses domain name on your behalf could pose risks and future problems should the web designer suddenly cease trading.
Yet again this week we are faced with a challenging situation for a new client. Trying to recover their domain name from a web company which has either gone bust or their owner has mysteriously disappeared/gone rouge. At best this can be a lengthy process and sometimes even impossible.
A wake up call
In this particular instance there is little we can do, the web company has closed its doors, the problem is the domains are in the legal name of the web designer, not the business owner. In simple terms, in the eyes of the law the web designer effectively owns all of these domains which he bought for his clients. Unfortunately no one is able to get hold of the web designer, so the easy route of asking to transfer the domains to their rightful owners is not an option – when you think of the cost of re-branding when losing your primary brand, this is never good.
The only hope for these unfortunate businesses is to raise an abuse claim with Nominet to recover the said domains. This in itself is a lengthy procedure and there has to be verifiable amounts of proof that these businesses are the rightful owners of the domains, there is no guarantee and it can be costly. ( But possibly more cost effective than alternatives ).
Be very careful who registers your domains!
What makes this particular situation even more frustrating is the key information that the web guy had registered these domains in his own name as opposed to his limited company name. Legally they are not part of the company so if the business has gone bust they would not count as assets of the company. However, even if they were in the name of the limited company, while Nominet has the right to lodge a claim to recover these domains, it is yet another long drawn out process – during which time the rightful owners have no control over their domains. If the company has stopped trading, it’s likely the hosting account will have been closed and the site may not even be live.
The best case scenario is obviously for the web designer to agree to transfer the domains to their rightful owners. Unfortunately, in most cases this is the last thing on their minds after the closure of their business and it can seem as though they don’t give a dam. This is why you need to protect yourself and your business before this kind of thing happens to you!
Register your own domain
By registering your domain in your name you have FULL control. Remember that your domain name is the key to your life online, your emails and while you can rebuild a website your domain is the foundations for everything. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression on the internet.
If you were to lose your domain name you have effectively lost all the promotion/marketing you ever put into your online presence. Your website is your online business card which links to not only your online endeavours but also your business listings, flyers, business cards and even that web address on the side of your vehicle – all gone. After that, would you have the mental strength, the time and the money to start again?
Things you need to know:
Only register your domain name with a recognised registrar – companies such as Godaddy, Namecheap, 123-reg, etc. Do NOT register a domain using a small company in your local town regardless of whether they register it in your name or if they seem like “lovely people”. By registering with the big boys you’re less likely to run into issues regarding ownership, your web guy doing a runner or god forbid being in an accident and no longer around to return your domain.
Be aware that Nominet is the trusted guardian of the .uk domain name space and is responsible for the stability and security of UK domains. Nominet have some great powers but they are still restricted to policy which is why it’s vital your domain’s WhoIs details are correct.
The official WhoIs details confirm the owner of a domain name therefore you need it registered in YOUR name. If it is registered under the name of a third party then you are potentially risking your business. If the third party owner was to have an accident then all of their clients would lose any semblance of control over their domain names and their websites. When the domain names expire you may have a battle re-registering the domain in your name, there may be delays, it can be extremely difficult and in the meantime your emails fall off the face of the earth. Unless you are aware of the steps to recover a domain before it drops you could be fighting a losing battle.
Where possible register your domain in your personal name, not your business name, although it will still be an asset of the company. This may or may not be the “correct” way of doing it but the reality is that if you forget to renew your domain or lose your registrars login details then you will need to approach Nominet. If the domain is registered under a company name it can take some time and effort to prove you actually own the domain indirectly – time lost can be costly in the online arena.
Important Links of reference.
- Nominet , if in doubt about your domain Nominet are the UK domain regulators ( note this is not for .com’s UK Domains only )