New UK rules introduced to protect consumers against ticket touting

March 2018

Live events sector


The UK’s Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths has announced the implementation of a number of new rules to regulate the online secondary ticketing marketplace, although readers of this blog will note that some of these are already law, coming into force after amendments were made to the 2015 Consumer Rights Act by MPs Sharon Hodgson and Mike Weatherley. That Act also instigated the Waterson Report on the ticketing marketplace. 

In a statement the Department For Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “Fans of live events are set to benefit from new rules which will demand more information from sellers on secondary ticket websites. Under the new rules, which will come into force in April 2018, ticket resellers will be required to provide purchasers with additional detailed information about tickets including the location of seats, disclosure of any restrictions and the original price of the ticket itself”.

However, Griffiths’s announcement does provide some clarity on exactly what ticket restrictions must be declared when a tout is touting. Also, there is a new obligation to provide the unique ticket number (UTN) of any ticket being resold where it is numbered (meaning a show promoter could cancel that ticket if it is then touted and the terms of conditions of sale prohibited re-sale).

Griffiths said: “All too often people are left feeling ripped off when buying tickets from resale websites. Whether it’s a major music festival or a stadium concert, people want to know they’re paying a fair price for tickets to see the events they love”.

Noting the ban on the ‘bots’ buy tickets from primary ticketing sites, and the Competition & Market Authority’s ongoing investigation into the secondary market, Griffiths continued: “We are already taking steps to crack down on touts using bots to bulk buy tickets for resale and the CMA is investigating suspected breaches of consumer protection law online. Today we are going even further, making it easier for consumers to understand what they are buying to help save them from rip off ticket prices”.

Adding “As part of today’s announcement, new guidelines have been published for ticket resellers, summarising the various consumer rights and trading standards laws that impact on touting and the penalties for breaking those laws.” Griffiths has also confirmed that later this year a new green paper will be published examining how government can help people “engage with markets to find the best deals”.

Under the new rules, ticket resellers will have to provide additional detailed information about the tickets they are selling to better inform and protect consumers. This will mean that ticket resellers must:

– identify the location to which the ticket provides access – such as the particular seat or standing area of the venue;

– disclose any restrictions that apply to the category of person who can use the ticket;

– disclose the original price of the ticket; and

– reveal the details of connections they have with either the online facility on which they are selling, or the organiser of the event for which the ticket is being sold.

– For the first time, resellers will also have to supply the unique ticket number (UTN) to the purchaser if the event organiser or primary seller specifies one, helping to identify the tickets seat, standing area or location.

Google also announced that from 7th February they will require ticket resellers to be certified before they can advertise through their AdWords service. This should make it easier for consumers to find tickets on the primary market.

And the The Irish government has indicated that it may give its backing to legislative proposals that would make the touting of tickets for profit illegal in Ireland. Two members of the Irish parliament, Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly, had been calling for tough new regulations limiting online ticket touting which promoted a government review of the secondary ticketing market last year led by the Department Of Business (which included a public consultation). That review is now complete and, according to the Irish Examiner, Rock and Donnelly will now meet with the Department Of Business to discuss the outcomes. It is thought the two politicians will then re-introduce their proposed new law that would ban the resale of tickets for profit, and that the Irish government may formally back the proposals.

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