Nominet AGM 2014 Resolutions and Elections – My thoughts

Home, UK                    Sunday, 18 May 2014                    10.30am BST


We have a unique opportunity this year to start implementing necessary changes… changes which will benefit  Nominet and it’s stakeholders at large.

The Nominet AGM takes place on Wednesday 21 May and if you wish to change your vote (or assign a new proxy) after reading this, then you may do so as Popularis (the election scrutineer) do allow this although you will need to do this ASAP.

You may contact Popularis at


The election statements for all candidates are at


  • The CEO, Lesley Cowley is leaving the organisation
  • There are two vacancies for member-elected board positions
  • Clive Grace (Appointed in 5.5 years ago 2008) is up for approval for one additional year to 6.5 years in total
  • The auditors, Grant Thornton (appointed in 8 years ago in 2006) are up for re-appointment for another year.


Although I would prefer Clive not to be re-appointed (as he is very close to reaching the max 6 years consecutive appointment under good corporate governance), I can see why the Board may wish to keep him on. I would throw caution and suggest that if you really wanted him re-appointed then this should be for a fixed term of 1 year and no more.

I am more than certain that Grant Thornton have carried out their duties with due diligence and I have no complaints about them. However it is good corporate practice to change auditors every 5-7 years, and Grants Thornton are coming up to completing 8 years. As such, I see no reason to re-appoint them and urge the membership to ask Nominet to get a fresh set of auditing eyes.

As for the 2 elected positions on the Board, I will say that we must take the opportunity to bring in change. Please note that this is not a plea for a vote for me (although I would, of course like to be voted in). Instead it is a plea for  you to vote to allow a good balance on the board which will allow Nominet to be steered toward the good of the stakeholders and further toward it’s Public Purpose.

What I am requesting is the readership to give their backing to Hazel Pegg, Oscar O’Connor and me. Even if I am not a consideration in your voting strategy, I urge you to vote for Hazel and Oscar rather than Oliver Hope and Sebastien Lahtinen. Why not Oliver nor Sebastien? I’ll explain below:

Readers will probably be aware of the lack of transparency issue I raised (concerning one of the candidates – Oliver Hope) at

views which were also mirrored at

Further, Emily Taylor makes the point extremely clear regarding co-ordinated action by the top registrars and thus their influence in the way Nominet is steered:

Sebastien, I have known for a long time and believe him to be a decent person and diligent as a director. I actually have no issues with him when it comes to biased views or vested interests or hidden agendas – as I believe he has none. We have worked well together as directors on the LONAP board in the past. Although we may not agree on everything (I have questioned him on his decisions regarding Nominet issues and have not agreed with his viewpoint), I still respect him personally and professionally.

However, as much as I may like to work with Sebastien again, I do believe that he has served enough time on the Nominet Board (6 years in total this year) and should step down in line with good corporate practice and let new blood in.

Nominet may go as far as talking about continuity and hence a reason to re-appoint Clive and re-elect Sebastien, however there is more than enough continuity within Nominet with other people on the Board and management. Lesley Cowley’s position has yet to be filled, however in the interim Nominet continue as normal with the CTO, COO, CCO and the Chair running the organisation… and as far as the Board is concerned, the other appointed and elected directors are still in for a few more years. The continuity is already there.

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a voter who asked me a few questions.. it shows how I think about Nominet:

“Anyway.. basically.. when it comes to operations. domain registrations, the way things are all handled.. Nominet as an organisation works really well. The thing is is supposed to do.. register and maintains domains within .uk, maintain the whois server, billing etc.. no complaints. The staff in general are great (On occasion, I have had to point out flaws to them in policies they are supposed to follow and these have been taken on board when I have escalated the issue). 

Where Nominet is failing for me is in the governance (and politics) side… the make up of the current Board (and those recommended) is worrying. This has significant impact in the future of the organisation and the direction it takes… it affects all stakeholders.

Let’s take as an example. Nominet are supposed to consult stakeholders before coming to a conclusion based on the feedback. Not “We took note of all your feedback and even though the overwhelming majority of responses was against we feel we know better so we are going to go with”

That in my view is plain wrong. It is Nominet moving away from truly transparent to being pseudo transparent… if the Government are not intervening because they think Nominet are self governing and want to keep it that way, then they are taken in by the pseudo transparency.

What makes this situation worse.. the self governance is based on weighted voting, and in my view this should be one member one vote. I have been saying this since around 2001, when it became clear to me at least that there was a false link in place between membership and tag-holder/registrar.

So.. the weighted voting system is wrong and should be one member one vote.

Myself – whenever I have voted on anything at Nominet, I have down this wearing my member hat and putting aside my tag-holder/registrar interests. In that way, the registrar size does not even come into it. There is no valid reason, in my mind, to assert that just because a registrar has many many more domains than anyone else, they are representing the stakeholders more than other registrars. The smaller registrars probably have more of a direct relationship with their customers than the larger ones and are more likely to know what their customer viewpoints are.

I feel at unease with things going on at the top level at Nominet.. it is just too cosy and cliquey for what i consider benefit of the few… IMHO, Clive Grace has served his term and should stand down rather than being recommended by Nominet to have him appointed again. Seb (whom I have worked with in the past really well and I respect) I think should also stand down as he has served his term… Leslie leaving Nominet is a chance to get new blood into the board and steer the organisation in a way beneficial to all stakeholders… getting just one non-recommended board member in is a start but not enough – a lone voice on the Board is not a nice situation to be in.

I will of course apply as much pressure I can to fix things at Nominet.. push for it to be transparent, push for OMOV, limited terms, more engagement with members, push for better communication between members and Nominet (the forum does not work.. it either needs to be enhanced with more threads of communication for different topics, or it needs to be replaced with something better). I will push for the Board to be much more approachable to the members… That’s just the tip of the iceberg. 😉

I understand we live in a different world now to the one when Nominet started up in 1996.. I can see some of the changes were necessary, but the balance has tipped, IMHO in the wrong way… I am not the only one who thinks this.. so it would be good to have at least a couple of non-recommended candidates get on the Board. :-)”

That’s all for now. I hope that you will comment on this with your views. If after reading this, you wish to change your vote, then please do not hesitate. If you wish to email me privately, please do so on denesh-nominet at bhabuta dot me dot uk

I look forward to reading your comments.