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Barracuda Music sued by Austrian gov over T&Cs

The Austrian promoter has been sued over cancellation clauses in its terms and conditions for tickets

By Lisa Henderson on 15 Sep 2023

Nova Rock 2022

Nova Rock 2022

Promoter Barracuda Music has been sued by the Austrian government over several clauses in its general terms and conditions, primarily regarding the cancellation of events.

The CTS Eventim-backed firm was taken to court by the Ministry of Social Affairs for six clauses which “violate legal prohibitions, are also not sufficiently transparent and are sometimes grossly disadvantageous”.

Barracuda Music intended to issue vouchers instead of refunds in cases of event cancellation for force majeure such as bad weather, in addition to the accepted use of vouchers brought in for the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Supreme Court (OGH) declared this illegal.

“The legislature created the KuKuSpoSiG for the historically unique exceptional case of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said The Association for Consumer Information (VKI), which represented the ministry in court.

“This regulation massively interfered with general contract law and the interests of consumers, also because it placed consumers at risk of insolvency with regard to claims for compensation converted into vouchers. There is no justification whatsoever for contractually extending this regulation to all other cases of force majeure, such as bad weather.”

KuKuSpoSiG (the Art, Culture and Sports Security Act) was a law introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic, which stipulated that organisers of art, cultural or sporting events that were cancelled due to the crisis could give a voucher for the amount to be reimbursed instead of the fee to be repaid.

The clauses “violate legal prohibitions, are also not sufficiently transparent and are sometimes grossly disadvantageous”

It was extended until mid-way through 2022, during which time Barracuda’s Nova Rock festival experienced “the rain of the century”. This led to the promoter investing €300,000 on renewed lawns and drainage, plus a new network of paths for arrival and departure.

Also in its T&Cs, Barracuda stated that date changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic or other cases of force majeure would be minor and reasonable if the new event date is no longer than 18 months after the original date.

“However, this change in service is neither minor nor reasonable for consumers because it gives Barracuda Music the opportunity to set any new date for the cancelled event,” according to OGH. “Those affected cannot be expected to remain interested and available for the event at a specific date within the next 18 months.”

Another clause deemed inadmissible by the OGH read: “In the event of a refund, any fees cannot be refunded because the relevant services have already been provided as part of the contract processing. The amount of the fees can vary, but is usually around 10%”. Again, OGH disagreed.

The promoter had initially appealed the judgment of the Vienna Commercial Court.

Barracuda has previously promoted concerts with Bob Dylan, David Gilmour, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran and Robbie Williams. Its festival portfolio includes Nova Rock, FM4 Frequency Festival, Butterfly Dance, Clam Rock, Beat the Fish and Lovely Days.


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