In 2011 a Nominet policy issue group was formed to look at the .uk expiry policy. The issue group met 4 times between September 2011 and February 2012.
The domain expiry issue group documents and reports can be found here.
The last meeting report highlited issues with registrars auctioning domain names:
19. The feedback from stakeholders highlighted the potential impact the policy may have on specific sectors of the industry and the first-come-first-served principle. There was concern that some large registrars may retain expired domains and transfer the registration to themselves in order to increase their portfolio. It was suggested that this would result in a reduced number of domain names being deleted and available for re-registration. One participant asserted that this could irreparably damage the dropcatching market.
20. Participants of the group from the registrar community highlighted that in their experience it is difficult to identify a domain with potential value from within the large number of domains under their management. They restated that there is an increased economic return in a customer renewing the domain than the sale of the domain through an auction. In addition, maintaining a healthy customer relationship is more economically beneficial, particularly if the registrant has other domains registered.
21. The group acknowledged that a domain name with perceived value was unlikely to be released back onto the open market as it would either be transferred by the registrar or re-registered by a dropcatcher.
And the final recommendations included:
Further, some stakeholders called for the auctioning or retaining of domain names by the registrar to be prohibited as permitting registrars to engage in these practices would fundamentally conflict with the principal of first-come-first-served. In their view these practices could also have a detrimental impact on specific segments of the registrar market.
The issue group considered the following options:
a) whether any practices should be prohibited;
b) whether a specified protected period could be offered to the registrant where redemption fees and transferring the registration were prohibited after which time the domain name is subject to the terms and conditions of the registrar;
c) retaining the status quo.
Recommendation: There should be a specified period of time, within the expiry period, where the registrant can renew the domain name without being penalised. In addition during this period the registrar should not change the WHOIS details or transfer the registration of the domain name to a third party. This period is recommended to be 30 days.
Where did exactly the proposed Nominet ‘Accredited Channel Partner’ perk clause 5.3.6 come from?