ICANN picks its first ever Supreme Court

After foot-dragging for a decade, ICANN has finally approved a slate of a dozen jurists to act as its de facto Supreme Court.

Its board of directors voted at the weekend to create the first-ever Independent Review Process Standing Panel, a pool of legal experts from which panels in future IRP proceedings — the final appeals process for ICANN decisions under its bylaws — will be drawn.

ICANN has not named the 12 people yet. The names are redacted from the published resolution, presumably because they haven’t signed contracts yet. ICANN said they are “well-qualified” and “represent a diverse breadth of experience and geography”.

The names were put forward by a cross-community working group called the IRP Community Representatives Group, which looked after the application and interview process. A thirteenth CRG pick was deemed “ineligible” by ICANN for undisclosed reasons.

The Standing Panel is intended to make IRPs faster and cheaper by drawing the three-person panel in each case from an established pool of experienced professionals. The panelists will be contracted for staggered terms of service.

The ICANN bylaws have called for the establishment of such a panel for over a decade, but its timely creation was another victim of the lethargy that consumed ICANN for years. The lack of a Standing Panel has been raised by claimants in multiple IRPs, some of which are ongoing.

Elsewhere in IRP policy-making, a separate staff/community working group called the IRP Implementation Oversight Team expects to shortly publish certain revisions to the IRP rules for public comment, but the fact that the legal language of the rules is to be written by the law firm Jones Day, which represents defendant ICANN in IRP cases, has raised some eyebrows.

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