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Eight-Year Legal Battle Recap: DCA Blocked From Being Heard on Its Merit

Hello Industry,

It has been a while, nearly eight years since we have been in touch. I thought I would post an update to the DCA vs ICANN case, to the interested party of the global internet, towards the eight-year legal battle DCA had with ICANN.

I believe there would be useful lessons learned that would shed some light on ICANN’s activities in the Internet community.

For those not aware, the DCA vs. ICANN case involved many twists and turns, spanning nearly a decade of DCA’s efforts to hold ICANN accountable for the harm it caused to DCA over the delegation rights of the .Africa new gTLD Registry. After winning an IRP I 2015, turning it into a phyric victory, ICANN returned our application back to the processing to reject it for the second time.

In January 2016, DCA filed suit against ICANN. DCA fought for eight years in an expensive legal journey that had a share of success and setbacks both at the trial court and in subsequent appeals. DCA had many successful victories in court and some setbacks; however, in the end, ICANN won by technical knockout, and DCA was blocked from being heard on any of its claims it brought to the court.

On September 20, 2021, the Appeal Court agreed with the earlier ruling of the Trial Court decision on October 3rd, 2019 that DCAs case against ICANN should be Judicially Estopped (JE) from bringing any claims against ICANN. The JE is estoppel that precludes a party from taking a position in a case that is contrary to a position it has taken in earlier legal proceedings. Although in the United States, it is only a part of common law and therefore not sharply defined, it is agreed that it can only be cited if the party in question successfully maintained its position in the earlier proceedings and benefited from it. DCA Trust did not in either cases. 
It is well known that the Independent Review Process (“IRP”) panel did not rule on many of DCA’s complaints/claims but on a single issue—the ill advice from ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee to stop DCA’s application from further processing. In addition, it is well settled that Judicial Estoppel (JE) is “an extraordinary and equitable remedy” that “must be applied with caution and limited to egregious circumstances’” because it can impinge on the truth-seeking function of the court and produce harsh consequences.”

However, DCA would continue its battle on the .africa rights, as our fraud claims against ICANN remain. You can read more about our eight-year recap and the activities of the court in the link here.

Sophia Bekele

By Sophia Bekele, CEO of DotConnectAfrica Group

Ms. Bekele is a former ICANN generic Names Supporting Organization (gNSO) Council policy advisor & contributed to policy over the new gTLD programme & IDNs. She was also policy advisor to various UN Agencies on ICTs. Founder and spearhead of the Yes2DotAfrica campaign. Bekele is a business and corporate executive, an international entrepreneur, a thought leader in Corporate and ICT Governance, international policy, Business Strategy, Internet, ICT & development. Her Profiles on sophiabekele.com / wikipedia.

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