ICANN has responded to a letter by Mr. Lucky M. Masilela the CEO ZA Central Registry who had written to ICANN to express his worries on .africa delays saying that “In terms of ICANN’s by-laws the IRP panel should strive to issue its written declaration no later than 6 months after the filing of the request for independent review. We are concerned at the time that has lapsed, apparently without a final outcome being close, and the longer the delay the more prejudice we suffer”
In her response, Christine A. Willett the Vice President, GDD Operation informed Masisela that
“The Panel recently scheduled a final hearing on this matter on 19 December 2014 (see order at https://www.icann .org/en/system/files/files/procedural-order-3-05sep14-en.pdf). We do not know how long it will take the Panel after the hearing to render its declaration, but we are optimistic that the Panel will issue its decision swiftly.”
The Independent Review Process (“IRP”) is a proceeding provided for in Article IV, Section 3 of the ICANN Bylaws, by which any person materially affected by a decision or action of the ICANN Board may request that the action be reviewed by an independent third party for consistency with the ICANN Bylaws and/or Articles of Incorporation.
In October 2013 DCA Trust submitted a Notice of Independent Review Process (“IRP”) to the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) after its .Africa application was not allowed to complete processing to the end of Independent Evaluation (IE) by ICANN as a result of GAC Objection, which DCA stated was “unfair, discriminatory, and lacked appropriate due diligence and care” as well as “anti-competitive”
On 12 March 2014, an Independent Review Panel granted an Interim Relief for DotConnectAfrica issuing a decision that ICANN must immediately refrain from any further processing of ZA Central Registry’s (ZACR) application for the .AFRICA top-level domain (TLD) .africa, until this Panel has heard the merits of DCA’s Trust Notice of Independent Review Process and issued its final decision regarding the same.
The panel has also recently on 14 August 2014, issued a ruling to accept DotConnectAfrica’s position on the procedural framework of the IRP proceedings. The Panel has ruled terming its Declaration and the future Declaration on the Merits of the case are binding on ICANN. (ICANN wanted this to be “advisory” and not “binding”)