The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has responded to the review of consumer protection measures that were adopted in relation to secondary ticketing.

We have previously reported (here and here) in respect of provisions brought in via the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) relating to the re-sale of tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events. These included a duty on the part of the Government to review the new rules after one year of them coming into force.

The full report of Professor Michael Waterson reviewing the CRA provisions was published at the end of May this year. In summary Prof. Waterson concluded that what is needed is better enforcement of the CRA provisions and “detailed clarification” of the rules rather than the creation of new rules. The Report is available here.

The CMA has now issued a response to the Review. In summary:

  • The CMA has agreed to work with the live events industry to put together best practice guidance. The guidance will deal with how the unfair contract terms rules apply to ticketing terms and conditions. In the meantime, the CMA has taken the opportunity to clarify that ticket terms prohibiting re-sale of tickets “should not automatically be regarded as unfair terms”. What they have said is that where there is a “legitimate reason” for limiting the re-selling of tickets such provisions are “more likely to be considered fair”. However, it remains to be seen what will be considered a “legitimate reason” and the CMA has said the test of fairness is ultimately a decision for the Courts. We might therefore need a case to go before the Courts before real clarity can be achieved.
  • The CMA cited its review of compliance by secondary ticketing platforms with information requirements set down in the CRA. However, we will have to wait to understand the extent of compliance and more importantly, whether and what the CMA will do if it does find non-compliance. The CMA has said that we can expect an update in relation to the review which was launched on 14 June 2016 and which closed on 12 July 2016 within 3 months i.e. by mid-October 2016. At that point the CMA says it will be able to establish what further action is needed, if any.
  • The CMA finished by citing the consideration of what further actions can be taken by the primary ticketing industry as referenced in the Report. The rationale being that the primary ticketing industry could help to prevent issues in the secondary ticketing industry such as tackling software applications (‘bots’) that enable people to buy numerous tickets. The CMA has confirmed it will take part in these discussions, but as the Report recommends, this will need to be facilitated by the setting up of a project group and if such a group is not set up, Prof. Waterson calls on Minsters to take it forward.

The review mechanism in the CRA has prompted the completion of a thorough Report providing much food for thought. This response by the CMA shows that the recommendations are being considered and it will be interesting to see what the CMA does with its findings on compliance.

The CMA response is available here.