Alan Limbury studied law at Oxford and was admitted as a barrister in the UK in 1964 before emigrating to Australia – he had previously spent time in Sydney as a student, selling handkerchiefs and umbrellas in a department store. He became a litigation solicitor in major law firms in Sydney, spending over 20 years as a partner of Minter Ellison and focusing on all kinds of commercial, IP and administrative law disputes.
Alan learned mediation and negotiation at Harvard in 1986 and 1987 with Professors Roger Fisher and Frank E. A. Sander – and later taught with them – before establishing his own business as a mediator 1995. He qualified as a Chartered Arbitrator in 2005 and became one of the first CIArb Fellows in both Arbitration and Mediation. He is on the domain name panels of WIPO, CAC, Forum and HKIAC, and is Chair of the Australian Self Medication Complaints Panel.
When and why did you become involved with Nominet’s DRS?
I encountered Tony Willoughby at a WIPO domain name panellists meeting shortly after the Nominet DRS was established and his enthusiasm prompted me to apply to join the Nominet panel. The trickle of cases from several such panels helps to feed the family.
What has been the most interesting aspect of this role?
The review and appeal processes are most interesting. In the last year, my decisions have been overturned on appeal and upheld on appeal. They certainly do help to focus the mind.
What do you feel this role has taught you?
I have learned a lot about the market for domain names and the kinds of disputes that give rise to DRS proceedings, as well as the need – as a panellist – to ensure fair treatment to the parties. I would especially like the losing party to feel it has been treated fairly. More generally, I have learned a lot about what is going on in the country in which I was born, despite leaving many years ago. It makes me feel like an informed tourist whenever I return.
How did you get involved in commercial and IP disputes in particular?
My first court case, as a clerk in a Sydney law firm, was an IP dispute that ran at trial for three years; the judge described it as “the longest and costliest in the history of this jurisdiction”. My client lost every which way and lodged an appeal to the Privy Council. The President of the company asked the English QC briefed on that appeal whether he could win or not. The reply was: “Well, I suppose you can always run a donkey in the Grand National”. Once the President eventually worked out what the Grand National was, the case was settled and I didn’t get the trip to London I had been promised.
Still, the experience led me into patent and trademark cases and administrative law cases, which I thoroughly enjoyed – especially competition law cases. I was litigating for clients until I discovered mediation and arbitration, and eventually moved away from legal practice.
What do you find interesting about this area of specialism?
The wide range of circumstances giving rise to DRS disputes and the extremely useful overview reflecting the development, over time, of broad consensus amongst panellists on various issues.
What do you enjoy about the domain name disputes you deal with via Nominet?
It keeps your mind active; you have a few weeks to produce a decision; your reviewer can be very helpful; it’s all done online and no one knows how old you are or what you are wearing.
What interests do you have outside your work?
Family, golf, food and wine.
What technological advancements are you most looking forward to in the future, and why?
The online method of quick and relatively inexpensive domain name dispute resolution offers the prospect of addressing other types of disputes featuring parties located in the same or different countries in similar fashion. This, combined with the introduction of online courts and online mediation tools could emulate the face to face characteristics of traditional processes.
View the full list of our DRS experts and read more about the service here.