GoDaddy testimonials : Recommend I go GoDaddy?? Standard "breach of contract" question

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Cliff Notes:.

Domain name about to expire. Basically, someone registered a good name in the 1990's and had no idea that domains were a marketable asset.

I contact registrant, tell them I want to buy the name.

Registrant says "Yeah, sure... I'll take (price)...".

I agree to their price and we exchange a couple emails.

The registrant suddenly thinks something is "odd" , asks me to elaborate further why I want the name, then, breaks off all contract...

I have emails from the seller stating that they are willing to sell me (DomainXYZ).com for (price), my agreeing to price, another email from seller confirming what name I want.

I'm perfectly willing to sue this person to get the name.

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas about what thresholds must be met for something to constitute breach of contract in (state deleted)..

Comments (15)

Would most likely be compared to a binding contract much like a home purchase, unless you have a signature on a contract, he would have many outs...

Comment #1

I think emails have been considered binding contracts in the past without signatures and won, you stated the domain and price and they accepted which would be forming the contract, I would suggest hitting up a domain attorney for advice, if the advice points to a yes then you could inform them that you will be taking action as they may wish to settle before a court appearance...

Comment #2

This sort of thing is not very binding in most cases, so I can't see the point of a suit. Beyond that, it's not the kind of thing to make you the most popular guy in town.

I wouldn't want to do business with some who sues for this reason - unless there are other details or losses on your end that you haven't explained.

If, per chance, the domain has an obvious value that is many multiples of what you offered, that's not gonna help in court either, if it gets even that far.

Why, may I ask, are you so ready to sue? Sellers and buyers change their minds every day...

Comment #3

I don't think you would have much of a chance in court. They could just say some one else was using their email. The old saying "possession is 9 tenths of the law."..

Comment #4

In common-law systems, the five key requirements for the creation of a contract are: 1. offer and acceptance (agreement) 2. consideration 3. an intention to create legal relations 4. legal capacity 5. formalities.

Does your email satisfy the key elements of a contract?.



Comment #5

1) I couldn't care less about being "popular". I've done OK living my life without any regard whatsoever for the opinions people have of me. There are some negative consequences for this M.O., but generally, I've found it to be the best method. I'm perfectly comfortable operating within the spectrum of my own judgment, others "opinions" be damned.

2) Yes, the domain is probably worth many multiples of the agreed upon price- the catch, though?.

I didn't offer anything. He set his own price.

3) I'm quick to sue because I want this name, he agreed to sell it and is now (apparently- barring a severe lag in email communication) backing out of an agreement. Since I'm not going to hire a goon to break his legs, it seems that the only way to force him to honor his commitment is through the court system. There is principle involved, but mainly, it's practical. The domain in question is immediately relevant to a massive development project we have going. He agreed to sell it, he set his terms, we accepted those terms.

4) I'm the sort of person who honors whatever commitment I make, even if there are after-effects that are unfavorable to me. As such, I enjoy the philosophical luxury of expecting the same from others. This whole "Sorry, I changed my mind" post-commitment bullshit is for airheaded women, petulant children and peddlers on blankets in Arab Bazaars, not the world of Western business. There's a reason agreements like this are often tenable in court...

Comment #6

I agree, I do not think you can drag someone through court on an email deal, offer, or whatever result occurred. If this was on the forum here, or DNforum, I would say yes, you have a case.

If we get technical here what is stopping me sue the scammers that say I have won $16,000,000 on the Internet lotto? Obviously the guy (or girl) told someone about the offer and was advised that indeed the name was valuable, hence calling it (the sale) off.

If you had the deal in writing with a signature, or through sedo etc again you would have a case IMO. Of course you are always within your rights to pursue this name through the courts, but what is your chance of success? That is what you need to fully clarify before going down this road...

Comment #7

You'd maybe best ask Howard Neu about that. He's licensed to practice in Florida.

If cost isn't a concern, then it arguably seems like you have a case. Arguably, anyway.

Good luck...

Comment #8

Law Offices of Howard Neu - Internet and URL Law, corporate litigation, appelate law, Florida..

Comment #9

When it comes to contract disputes, it usually isn't a matter of whether or not there was a contract, but whether or not you can prove that the breach of said contract resulted in direct damages to you. If you both end up in the exact same position as when you started, then the breach would not be considered to have really effected you. Now, if for example, a contract was established and then you spent money developing a site for this particular domain, you may be entitled to damages, because you incurred monetary loss based on the premise that the contract would be honored.

However, generally speaking, it is possible that even if you win you won't get the domain. The courts might just award you a monetary ruling.

I'd really speak to an attorney if you are serious about pursuing this, but like I said, I'm fairly certain you need to be able to prove damages incurred from the breach...

Comment #10

For a breach of contract to occur there needs to be a valid contract in the first place, and for agreements that aren't 'face to face' that needs some kind of authentic signature. Online markets and such have their signature equivalent in the form of a 'click to agree' button. What you've got is an email, which has about as much legal substance as leaving a message on someone's Myspace page.

Welshing on a deal yes, but there's virtually zero chance of recourse here in any jurisdiction.

"Case law tends to distinguish between delayed forms of communication, such as mail and telegrams, and virtually instantaneous forms of communication, such as the telephone, telex and fax machine. The courts have yet to consider the electronic message." Electronic Contract Formation..

Comment #11

Mostly what I was going to say. The breach of contract is easy enough but it's damages that are the problem. If you had say spent thousands of dollars after the agreement to begin a company then you could attempt to recoup those costs.

Doubtful a court will enforce the sale but you never know.

Imho just count this as the one that got away. It's discussions like this that lower my viewpoint of domainers. Not true anymore. You quoted a 12 year old article. Emails can be considered by a court.

Maybe something more recent:

Comment #12

True, I did notice the long in the tooth age of the article, but hadn't heard of a similar case being successfully concluded.

I think the territory below is the where the thing would fall into a pit of spikes:.

"This can be a particular issue in the context of e-mail or other electronic evidence, since measures which may protect the integrity and/or authenticity of electronic evidence (such as the use of digital signatures or other forms of encryption) are not always used. As a result, the reliability of e-mail as evidence may be subject to attack.


Organisations can however take steps that will potentially enhance the reliability of e-mail as evidence. One way of doing this is to demonstrate that e-mail has been created, compiled and stored in accordance with good industry practice. In particular, compliance with the BSI 'Code of Practice for Legal Admissibility and Evidential Weight of Information Stored Electronically' (the Code) will be relevant.


Compliance with the Code does not automatically mean that electronically stored documents will be regarded as reliable, but it is likely to strengthen any claim of reliability. Equally a failure to comply with the Code could leave a party open to the suggestion that e-mail evidence is unreliable.".

I agree about the 'c'est la vie' stoical sentiment though. The other guy did look like he was going to get seriously 'D*nged' by the trade..

Comment #13

Doesn't mean it can't be submitted or that a jury won't find it credible...

Comment #14

Of course nothing is set in stone, but I think Halverez being given a second chance at Snapnames is probably more likely to happen than this case resulting in either the name being crowbarred out of the 'noob', or compensation being awarded:.

"However it should be recognised that, just as e-mail can be used to support a case, it can also be used to undermine it. E-mail is something of an informal medium, and individuals may often write things in an e-mail that they would not include in a standard letter or memo. For example, individuals may send e-mails to each other discussing problems with a project and may make admissions of fault that they would not have made had they been aware that such e-mails could be disclosed to the other party. Policies regulating the use of e-mail are therefore important. In addition, organisations can in some cases rely on particular legal rules to avoid the need to disclose e-mails in particular cases."..

Comment #15

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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