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Sport, theatre and music fans looking to purchase tickets on the online secondary market have received two lots of good news recently.
Firstly, late amendments to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the “Act”) which take effect on 27 May 2015 introduce requirements for those reselling tickets, and the marketplaces where such tickets are resold, to display important information about the ticket.
Secondly, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has obtained undertakings from four of the largest secondary ticket platforms to also give extra information to buyers.
The £1 billion a year secondary ticket market is a hot political topic and has been the subject of formal investigation since 2013 by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (the “APPG”) . This short article examines the impact of the Act and the CMA undertakings and how these compare to the wide ranging recommendations made by the APPG.
The Act beefs up the regulation of the secondary ticket market by introducing the following requirements into law:
In addition to the above, GET ME IN!, Seatwave, StubHub and viagogo have given undertakings to the CMA to provide certain information about tickets listed on their sites. Some of this replicates the requirements under the Act but in addition these companies have agreed to provide details of:
The Act confirms that the Government supports a secondary ticket market but recognises the need to protect both consumers and rights holders. Consumers will now be provided with greater information which should enable them to make more informed decisions. Rights holders have a means to identify the particular ticket being resold which will assist in identifying those who are reselling tickets in breach of the ticket’s terms and conditions.
It should also negate the need for rights holders to issue court proceedings to obtain Norwich Pharmacal orders against STFs in order to compel a disclosure of the identity of those reselling tickets (an approach adopted by the RFU against viagogo) . This is an important development as it is only an offence for unauthorised persons to resell tickets to designated football matches, not tickets to other sporting events .
Therefore, rights holders in other sports must rely on enforcing their ticket terms and conditions (which typically restrict transfer or resale) to control how tickets to their events are resold. With some careful drafting to ensure ticketing terms are reasonable, these new provisions in the Act should allow rights holders to cancel tickets sold in breach of their terms (and perhaps re-issue them at their face value to happy fans).
These measures should impact on fraud but their broader impact is more limited. The Act does not apply to offline sales so cash exchanges in a stadium car park are not covered. It is also unclear whether these regulations will apply to corporate hospitality providers who advertise packages online, then complete the transaction over the phone .
Further, only 5 of the 17 APPG recommendations have been addressed by the Act or CMA. Whilst the ticket’s face value must be shown, there are no restrictions on profiteering (for example where large numbers of tickets are purchased using ‘bots’, and sold on the secondary market at inflated prices) .
This is clearly a concern for consumers who will continue to be out of pocket but rights holders may also take issue that they still have no statutory mechanism to enforce what they may consider are equitable pricing policies.
In addition, many of the recommendations aimed at benefiting consumers, such as reimbursement of costs associated with attending an event if a ticket is fraudulent, only paying sellers after the event and including in the list price all fees charged by the platform , are omitted from the Act and CMA undertakings. As part of the reforms the Secretary of State is obliged to review and report on consumer protection measures applying to the re-sale of tickets within 12 months so perhaps further protection for consumers will follow .
 APPG on Ticket Abuse: Secondary Market Investigation, Putting fans first, 2014. Prior to this, the Metropolitan Police Service set up a dedicated team called Operation Podium to (in part) investigate ticket crime relating the London Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. One of its key recommendations was to introduce legislation to govern the unauthorised sale of event tickets.
 Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 90
 Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 91
 Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 92
 Competition and Markets Authority, ‘Ticket buyers benefit from CMA action’, 5 March 2015, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ticket-buyers-benefit-from-cma-action accessed on 8 April 2015
 Rugby Football Union v Consolidated Information Services Ltd (formerly Viagogo Ltd) (in liquidation)  UKSC 55
 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 166
 Section 95(2) of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives the Secretary of State power to designate those who should be considered secondary ticketing facilities so perhaps clarity will follow.
 See for example the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill where a 10% above face value limit was suggested.
 Although it is acknowledged that this is a existing requirement under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
 Consumer Rights Act 2015, section 94
This article was written by Paul Shapiro.
For more information please contact Paul on +44 (0)20 7203 5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org