Re-imagining dispute resolution for the .nz online space

A guest blog from Brent Carey, Domain Name Commissioner

26 September 2019

Mental health awareness week on 23-29 September is a good opportunity to talk about our dispute resolution services review because anyone working in dispute resolution is routinely dealing with other people's problems. 

And it’s easy for the stress involved in those situations to boil over and build up over time and be taken out on others and dispute resolution processes. 

The Domain Name Commission has been recently looking to reimagine the way we deliver our dispute resolutions services: we wanted to personalise the customer experience and provide more of our services online.

It was important for us to understand the community needs and the processes involved in building new ways of working before we started designing the new service. 

In September 2019, we finished our first end-to-end review of dispute resolution as a service. 

Our engagement approach was based on five “building blocks”:

1. online survey

2. co-design workshops with users of the system 

3. online brainstorming by using a tool called Mural



4. traditional submission process 

5. insights workshop. 

The process was guided by a strawperson, who helped us to break dispute resolution into stages. These stages were triage, conflict resolution, determination, mediation, and appeal. 


What the review has shown us is no matter the stage or form of engagement, the local internet community supports us in re-designing the way we resolve disputes.

We’ll, therefore, be moving away from paper to an online system. It includes more self-service, smart forms and flexible pathways. We’ll be getting our heads around what this means and what working online will look like in 2020. 

In a nutshell, these were some of the insights we’ve learned from our engagement:

  1. DNCL should do more awareness and education activities and provide parties in dispute with information. For example, clearer process materials, a service catalogue of people who can help with online disputes, more accessible forms and summaries. 

  2. DNCL should triage dispute resolution service users through the complaint making process, providing them with relevant information about available options, timeframes and what they can expect. Having more user-friendly electronic forms is also important. 

  3. Conflict resolution techniques should be a feature of the overall system where parties want to voluntarily negotiate with one another. 

  4. Mediation should remain as a feature of the system with enhancements.  For example, once a notice of complaint and notice of response has been filed, DNCL could investigate if the parties have tried to resolve the dispute between themselves. If not, give them five days to try before moving to the next stage. 

  5. Expert binding determinations  - moving the determination process to an online system, consideration of a summary process for arriving at a determination, and the introduction of more discretion for experts in the consideration of evidence of unfair registrations older than 3 years. 

  6. Overall system enhancements including use of technology to resolve disputes, design a disputes process for applicants and consideration of Māori knowledge, flexibility to skip dispute resolution pathways, extended timeframes, and more overall information disclosure about outcomes.   

The varied and satisfying insights from our public consultation will lead to a better overall service.  

We are now preparing an insights paper for InternetNZ’s Policy Advisory Committee and an implementation plan for immediate changes.

Thanks to all who engaged with us to help to make resolving disputes in the .nz online space a bit easier and hopefully eliminate some of the stressors that may be a feature of the overall design of the system.  Find out more about the consultation by visiting