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UK govt rejects CMA’s calls to tighten resale laws

The business secretary says he is "not convinced" about the need for additional legislative changes in the secondary ticketing market

By James Hanley on 11 May 2023

TicketOne criticises AGCOM for named ticket law, lack of action against secondary sites

The UK government has rejected the recommendations of the British competition regulator to tighten laws around online ticket touting.

In a 2021 report, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) proposed stronger rules to deal with illegal activity on non-price-capped secondary ticketing sites, including measures to clamp down on the bulk-buying of tickets as well as the practice of “speculative ticketing”, where sellers list tickets they don’t yet own.

Other suggestions included ensuring platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about tickets that are listed for sale on their websites, and a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets that would enable an authority to act quickly and issue sanctions.

However, in the government’s response, business secretary Kevin Hollinrake MP says he is “not convinced” by the need for additional legislative changes.

“I am not convinced that the additional costs that would fall on ticket buyers (as regulatory costs would be passed on) are justified by the degree of harm set out in your report,” says Hollinrake. “This is especially the case when we are already proposing to give the CMA additional administrative powers to protect consumers which the CMA could deploy in the secondary ticketing market.

“However, we propose to keep the position on maximum numbers of ticket resales under review as part of our ongoing monitoring of the legislative landscape in the ticketing market and in the light of technological, enforcement and other market developments.”

“It appears the uncapped market may still provide a service of value to some consumers”

He continues: “The government notes and agrees with the CMA recommendation that there should not be a ban on the uncapped secondary ticket market. Whilst both the way tickets are sold and used are changing and there is a growing authorised capped ticket resale market to help those who can no longer use their purchased ticket, it appears the uncapped market may still provide a service of value to some consumers.”

Hollinrake argues that is “too soon to conclude that the only way forward is further legislation focused on this market”.

“As you are aware, there are a number of improvements to other aspects of consumer law which we have now published in our response to the 2021 consultation,” he adds. “These will be our priority in the immediate future, rather than changes to the secondary ticketing regime specifically.”

“The government has effectively given bad actors a free pass to continue acquiring tickets in bulk to popular events and to engage in speculative and fraudulent selling”

Sharon Hodgson MP, chair of the APPG on ticket abuse, says the group is “struggling to understand” why the government has turned down the CMA’s recommendations.

“In August 2021, the CMA made it clear to the government that a handful of additional safeguards could help reduce the scale of unlawful online ticket touting, and better protect consumers,” says Hodgson. “Nineteen months on, and all their recommendations have been rejected. We are still struggling to understand why, and on what basis.

“Rather than improving the capacity of enforcement agencies to clamp down on malpractice, the government has effectively given bad actors a free pass to continue acquiring tickets in bulk to popular events and to engage in speculative and fraudulent selling. These individuals can make extraordinary profits at the expense of ordinary fans who are left ripped off and out of pocket.

“The UK is rightly proud of its live event industry, but an uncontrolled black market risks harming the consumer experience and wreaking untold damage on the sector overall.”

“The experiences of consumers appear to have been overlooked entirely”

Adam Webb, campaign manager of UK-based campaign against industrial-scale online ticket touting FanFair Alliance, shares similar sentiments.

“In August 2021, the Competition & Markets Authority published a series of common sense recommendations to the government that aimed to further protect consumers from being ripped off by unscrupulous ticket touts and parasitical ticket resale sites,” he says. “These included new measures to clamp down on the unlawful bulk-buying of tickets and large-scale speculative fraud, where rogue traders list tickets for sale that they do not possess. Research by FanFair Alliance has shown these problems remain rampant on certain secondary ticketing platforms.

“Nineteen months down the line, and, despite overwhelming evidence of continuing bad practice, the government has today comprehensively rejected the CMA’s advice – without, we believe, consulting with experts, campaigners or the live music industry.

“The experiences of consumers appear to have been overlooked entirely. Although much progress has been made in recent years to tame the UK’s black market for tickets, FanFair Alliance shares the views of the CMA that further action is still required to tackle these evident and ongoing problems with online secondary ticketing.”


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