Who: The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA“), Viagogo and the International Cricket Council.
When: 2012 to 2016
Law stated as at: 17 October 2016
In 2012, the Office of Fair Trading (the “OFT“) investigated the secondary ticketing market to ensure that consumers were being provided with all the essential information needed when making a secondary ticket purchase. Following the investigation, the OFT received undertakings that buyers would be provided with better information on secondary ticketing websites. This was confirmed by the CMA (the OFT’s successor) on 5 March 2015, when Viagogo and other ticket resellers were named as having given undertakings to “build upon their existing practices and give improved information to buyers about the tickets listed on their sites“.
After the undertakings were given, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the “CRA“) came into force on 1 October 2015. Chapter 5 of the CRA specifically deals with the secondary ticketing market, covering the information that must be provided, cancellation rights and a duty to report criminal activity.
In the same month that the CRA came into force, consumer group Which? released the results of its own investigation into the ticket resellers and WorldTicketShop. The investigation found that the ticket resellers and WorldTicketShop were not clearly displaying or providing essential information about the tickets offered on their sites, such as the face value of the tickets or seat information. Which? also reached the same conclusions in its follow-up research released seven months later in May 2016.
Following the undertakings and findings by Which?, the CMA began a legal compliance review in June 2016 to check if Viagogo and other ticket resellers are providing adequate information to consumers. The CMA’s note in September 2016 stated that it was reviewing the information gathered and would provide an update before the end of 2016. The legal compliance review will be the first time that the CMA has reviewed Viagogo and the other ticket resellers against the new provisions in the CRA.
Despite the CMA’s legal compliance review, in October 2016 it was reported that one of the ticket resellers, Viagogo, is facing legal action from International Cricket Council. Viagogo has apparently listed hundreds of tickets to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 during September 2016, before the tickets were actually available. Some have suggested that this practice may be in breach of consumer protection laws and regulations, including the CRA, the CAP Code and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Why this matters:
The CMA’s review should be a warning to any other secondary ticketing websites that are not providing consumers with all the information that they should receive before making a purchase. All ticketing websites must comply with all relevant consumer laws, not just the specific provisions at Chapter 5 of the CRA.
In addition, the attention that the secondary ticketing market has drawn should act as a general reminder for businesses to comply with consumer laws and regulations.