The UK Government has agreed to an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill which will make the secondary ticketing market more transparent and help to protect secondary ticket buyers against fraud.
Under the new law, anyone re-selling tickets (including through platforms such as Viagogo and Stubhub) will be required to provide specific details to purchasers such as the face value, ticket number, row/seat number, age restrictions, the identity of the original seller and any restrictions placed on the ticket by event organisers. The provision of this information is not legally required at the moment and so these new obligations are part of a push for more transparency in the market. The new amendment, passed by the House of Lords on 24 February 2015, aims to curtail recent spikes in the activity of professional touts bulk buying tickets and reselling those tickets via secondary ticket platforms at extortionate prices. Those failing to provide the information will be committing a criminal offence and those repeatedly in breach of these obligations could be liable for a fine of up to £5,000. The new law will also assist in eradicating counterfeit ticket sales and also speculative tickets being sold on the secondary market often prior to becoming available commercially from the event organisers themselves. Websites where tickets are resold will also be under a duty to report any fraud they discover.
Lord Moynihan, who tabled the amendment, stated that he has “no doubt” that these measures will “in due course strengthen the secondary market” and “address the excessive profiteering which has been the product of an unregulated web-driven market.” He further elaborated, stating that “one of the major reasons why you can’t get tickets for high-demand events as a member of the public is because there’s specialised software available to touts which sweeps up the supply within a nanosecond of them going on sale…..these tickets are then made available on the secondary market at sometimes five or 10 times the price. From now on that process is restricted, because you have to have the seat number, row number and so on.”
The amendment also obligates the Government to review the consumer protection measures applying to secondary ticketing and publish a report of the outcome of the review within 12 months of the amendment coming into force.
The amendment will be become law when the Consumer Rights Bill is enacted, which is expected to take place in the next few months.