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Viagogo avoids trial following UK court order

A High Court judgment sees the controversial resale site agreeing to comply with all CMA demands, including providing tickets' face value and ending speculative listings

By Jon Chapple on 27 Nov 2018

High Court of Justice, London

The hearing was held at the High Court, at London's Royal Courts of Justice

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has been granted a landmark court order securing a range of concessions from Viagogo, with the controversial secondary ticketing avoiding a costly trial after agreeing to address the competition watchdog’s concerns.

In a hearing at the High Court of Justice this morning, judge Sir Christopher Nugee issued a legally binding order instructing Viagogo to comply with British consumer law 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 had 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
  • preventing the sale of tickets a seller does not own and may not be able to supply

The CMA brought legal proceedings against Viagogo in August for “continued failure[s] to “overhaul the way it does business”.

Following a nearly year-long investigation into the secondary ticketing sector, the competition watchdog said last November it consider taking legal action against websites it suspected of breaking UK consumer law, giving the sites in question a deadline of spring 2018 to get their houses in order. Three of those four sites – StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave, the latter pair of which are in the process of being closed down – complied in April, agreeing to a set of new transparency measures, with Viagogo the last hold-out.

“Viagogo has agreed to a comprehensive overhaul of its site to ensure it respects the law”

The order, which is legally binding and enforceable by the High Court, must be complied with by mid-January; if the company fails to do so, it could face a fine or, more seriously, its executives could be imprisoned.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, welcomes the decision. “This court order is a victory for anyone who decides to buy a ticket through Viagogo,” he says. “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.”

“That it’s required a court order to force their compliance with existing legislation is nothing short of extraordinary”

More surprisingly, so does Switzerland-based Viagogo – which has achieved notoriety in the UK by refusing to comply with promoters’ wishes for their tickets not to be listed on its platform and twice failing to send a representative to UK parliamentary hearings. A spokesperson says: “We are pleased that we have been able to work closely with the CMA to come to an agreement that provides even greater transparency to consumers.”

Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, also welcomes an end to the “extraordinary” saga. “While the UK’s ticket resale market undergoes a long-awaited transformation, Viagogo has effectively become a rogue operator,” he says.

“That it’s required a court order to force their compliance with existing legislation is nothing short of extraordinary. Effectively, it means Viagogo have been given until mid-January to overhaul their bad practices. If they fail to do that, they should feel the full force of the law.


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