By Jonathan Copping, Lawyer, Stone King, London, UK
Following a legal action commenced by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in respect of alleged breaches by Viagogo of consumer protection law, the English High Court has ordered Viagogo to “overhaul the way it does business”.
Viagogo, founded in London, UK, in 2006, is a major on-line ticket market place for ticket resales, with a network of more than 60 global websites and customers in 160 countries around the world.
The CMA and Viagogo reached a settlement to avoid the case being heard at trial.
The terms of the settlement were formalised in a Court Order handed down by Mr Justice Nugee on 27 November 2018.
The terms of this Order require Viagogo to comply with current legislation by:
- telling purchasers of tickets if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door;
- informing customers which seat in the venue they will get;
- providing information about who is selling the ticket, so people can benefit from enhanced legal rights when buying from a business;
- not giving misleading information about the availability and popularity of tickets, which have the potential to lead to customers being rushed into making a buying decision or making the wrong choice;
- making it easy for people to get their money back under Viagogo’s guarantee when things go wrong; and
- preventing the sale of tickets that a seller does not own and may not be able to supply.
The terms of the Court Order must be complied with by mid-January 2019.
The CMA commenced enforcement proceedings against a number of other secondary ticketing websites in November 2017; however, the other websites – StubHub, GETMEIN! and Seatwave – all agreed to comply with the CMA requirements. The deadline for Viagogo of mid-January 2019 is in accordance with the deadline set for the other websites to change their practices.
Commenting on the Court Order, the CMA Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Coscelli, stated:
“This court order is a victory for anyone who decides to buy a ticket through viagogo. We have been clear throughout our investigation that people who use these resale websites must know key facts before parting with their hard-earned money, including what seat they will get and whether there is a risk they might not actually get into the event at all.
Viagogo has agreed to a comprehensive overhaul of its site to ensure it respects the law, just like the other resale sites who have already signed commitments to improve the information they offer and give people a fair deal.”
The conclusion of the legal action against Viagogo, save for any enforcement action in respect of any non-compliance with the Court Order, largely concludes a successful investigation by the CMA into the practices of secondary ticketing websites.
The action being taken by such websites, including Viagogo, should result in improved protection for consumers when purchasing or attempting to purchase resale tickets for events, including major sporting ones.
Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@stoneking.co.uk’