Can I legally withhold transfer of a domain name if my client owes me money for work done on the website?

UPDATED: Dec 15, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Dec 15, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I legally withhold transfer of a domain name if my client owes me money for work done on the website?

I have done work for a client on their website. They are refusing to pay for it. At this time, the domain name and website are being hosted by me so I have control over the domain name. Can I legally withhold the transfer of their domain name back to them until their account is paid in full?

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Business Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you had obtained the domain name for them, you could likely do this. A contract, including an agreement to work on a website, is based on mutual obligations or promises. If one party has breached its obligations in a material, or important way--such as by not paying for services--the other party may cease performing its obligations--and so would not be required to turn over domain name it had obtained or created for the first part.

However, if the domain name belonged to them prior to you doing the work, and you were simply, as part of your services, hosting, then legally you would have to return it to them--you do not have a right to keep their property. You will have to seek another way to get them to pay, such s suing in small claims court. If there is fee or cost involved for returning the domain name, you may reasonable require payment of that fee, etc. up front, under these circumstances.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption