Court of Appeal confirms Viagogo ticket re-sale ruling

February 2012

Live events industry

The UK’s Court of Appeal has confirmed a decision by the High Court ordering ticket resale platform Viagogo to hand over the names of suppliers of tickets which it then re-sold for rugby union football matches. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has specific contract terms that prohibit the resale of its tickets above face value by individuals except to family or friends or to one of six official ticketing sites. The RFU argued that those who attended matches on resold tickets were trespassers and that those who sold the tickets had acted as accomplices in this act and sought the identity of a number of persons who had supplied tickets. Viagogo refused to supply these details as it has a policy of keeping sellers’ identities private. Having balanced the conflicting arguments the Court confirmed that the RFU was entitled to know about who was infringing its contract terms and ruled that the lower court (Mr Justice Tugendhat) was right to grant the RFU a “Norwich Pharmacal Order” against Viagogo to reveal the data. Despite both court rulings, Viagogo has so far refused to hand over any information and has said it will fight on and in a statement said “We are committed to vigorously defending our customer’s rights and private information, therefore we will appeal today’s decision” adding “In the meantime, no customer information has been shared and we are confident that no customer information will ever be shared.” At the time of writing no specifics have been given of any appeal. RFU spokesperson Sophie Goldschmidt said that “placing tickets for sale on secondary ticketing sites is in direct contravention of the RFU’s ticketing terms and conditions, and if the seller can be identified, they face tough sanctions including possible court action” adding “Individuals who believe they have anonymity by trading their tickets through such secondary sales sites are no longer invisible, and we will do our utmost to ensure that tickets go to genuine fans.”

In the USA the American Antitrust Institute (AAI) has officially joined the fight against paperless ticketing. The Washington DC based advocacy organization has presented the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and several state attorneys general with a 71-page white paper authored by James D. Hurwitz which spells out the AAI’s position that the US government needs to sponsor an investigation into restrictive paperless tickets which restrict consumer choice and depart from “bedrock competitive market principles” particularly where added restrictions are put in place for gaining entry (eg necessitating presenting the credit card used or photo ID) or where restrictions are in place restricting or complicating gifting or re-selling tickets. and more on Norwich Pharmacal Orders here

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