American state Kentucky tried to seize 141 domain names owned by Poker Kings, the company behind the popular online poker room Full Tilt Poker. Among these domain names was the crown jewel fulltiltpoker.com
Court proceedings were initiated last year in October, after the domain name registrar SafeNames Ltd was ordered by the Kentucky state to turn over the domain name. While SafeNames is a global company, it is headquartered in Milton Keynes, England. The highest court in England ruled that it would not recognize or enforce the order to turn over the domain names because the Kentucky order was not enforceable under English law due to its penal and governmental nature.
"English courts have no jurisdiction to entertain an action (I) for the enforcement either directly or indirectly of a penal, revenue or other public law of a foreign state or (2) founded upon an act of state," stated the judgement of Queen’s Counsel Michael Furness.
"So far as I am aware, there is no authority on the question whether the forfeiture of assets used in the commission of a crime under local law is to be regarded as penal for the purpose of this rule. Regardless of the categorisation of this type of forfeiture as a civil remedy under US law, it seems to me to be a provision distinctly penal in nature, requiring as it does the confiscation without compensation of an asset, on the ground that the owner, or at least the user of it, has been guilty of a criminal offence."
"I, therefore, conclude that the Kentucky proceedings are not enforceable in English law as being penal or governmental in nature. It is not, therefore, necessary for me to consider whether the Kentucky proceedings breached the principles of natural justice."
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