The ICA has developed a voluntary ICA Broker Code of Conduct for the domain name industry. The ICA Broker Code of Conduct attempts to distill the best practices of domain name brokers as identified by our members.
Domain name brokers are dedicated professionals who provide an essential service to both domain name buyers and sellers. Currently, there is little guidance to aid prospective clients in distinguishing between an ethical, experienced professional domain name broker and an unethical person purporting to be a professional broker but who does not act with the client's interests in mind. The ICA Broker Code of Conduct offers guidelines for professional domain name brokers to follow and sets expectations for the ethical conduct that a client can expect from an ICA broker that voluntarily adheres to the ICA Broker Code of Conduct.
There is currently no investigation, complaints procedure, enforcement, or penalties available in connection with non-compliance with the Voluntary Code of Conduct.
It is up to each ICA broker member who has committed to adhere to it to honor it without oversight by the ICA. Accordingly, any issue that you may have with a broker who is an ICA member is entirely between you and that broker and the ICA will generally not be involved in receiving any complaints or taking any other action against a broker in relation to such a complaint at this time. The ICA is not responsible for any actions taken by ICA members who are brokers nor does the ICA represent or warrant that any ICA member who is a broker has or will abide by the Voluntary Code of Conduct, and the ICA specifically disclaims any obligation to take any action or omit to take any action in connection with an ICA member who is a broker in relation to the Voluntary Code of Conduct.
Nevertheless, our members have also asked that we periodically reevaluate how the Voluntary Broker Conduct has performed and then possibly proceed further towards an accreditation model which may involve an accreditation procedure for qualified brokers as well as a de-accreditation procedure for breaches of a mandatory Code of Conduct. We are not at that point yet however and we will update this page if we move to that model.
Voluntary Broker Code of Conduct
Version 1.0 - Published March 29, 2023
- I shall endeavor to provide conscientious service to my clients in a professional manner and shall exercise reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment, and competence in providing those services.
- I shall endeavor to keep myself informed of the trends, best practices, and changes affecting domain name brokerage services and the industry in general.
- I shall always employ a written brokerage agreement that adequately sets out all fees, duties, terms, rights and obligations applicable to both me and my client, and unless otherwise expressly agreed with the client, the agreement shall entitle me to act as the client’s exclusive broker in respect of the subject domain name(s). Where any co-brokering, subcontracting, or other arrangement is contemplated, that shall be disclosed in a written agreement.
- I shall promote and protect the best interests of my client and shall endeavor to serve my client’s interests uninfluenced by my basis of remuneration.
- I shall always act within the authority granted to me by my client.
- I shall hold in strictest confidence all information acquired in my professional capacity and will not divulge it or any portion of it unless so authorized by my client or so required by law. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, I will not publicly disclose the confidential details of a domain name transaction, including but not limited to the domain name itself, without the express permission of the applicable parties.
- In the course of my activities as a domain name broker, I shall strive to conduct myself with courtesy and in good faith, in such a way as to enhance public respect for the domain name industry and for domain brokers in particular.
- Unless I have written authorization from the buyer, seller, or owner of a particular domain name, I shall not represent that I act for or on behalf of the buyer, seller or particular domain name, respectively. If I am soliciting interest for my services as a broker with respect to a domain name which I am not authorized by the domain name owner to represent on their behalf, I shall include in my initial outreach the following statement, “I am not acting for the domain name owner, nor am I authorized by the domain name owner to do outreach on this domain name”, and the statement shall be included in a prominent manner such that it will be noticed by the recipient.
- I shall fully disclose to my client any conflicts of interest that I may have.
- I shall not represent both the buyer and seller in respect of the same domain name unless I have obtained the client’s consent and have disclosed the dual agency to the client.
- I shall fully disclose and obtain the consent of my client with respect to any arrangements for receiving compensation from any third party.
- I shall recommend to my client that an established and credible domain name escrow or transfer service be employed in connection with all domain name transactions.
- I shall strive to encourage clients to seek the services of qualified attorneys, accountants, or other professional advisors when applicable.
- I shall endeavor to comply with all applicable laws and will not knowingly assist or facilitate in any unlawful conduct.
- I shall maintain a publicly accessible website and LinkedIn profile identifying myself and describing my services.
- I shall not knowingly attempt to circumvent or interfere with another broker’s exclusive contract with a domain name owner or buyer.
- I shall not refer to legitimate domain name investors as "cybersquatters" or "squatters" or otherwise disparage the legitimate domain name investment industry and will do my best to educate clients about the legitimate business of domain investing.