NZ Commission wins appeal for Viagogo injunction
New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has successfully appealed against a High Court decision that prevented the issuing of an injunction against Switzerland-based online ticket reseller Viagogo.
On Wednesday (2 October), New Zealand’s Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s ruling that it did not have the jurisdiction to place an injunction against Viagogo, given that the secondary site had not been served with court proceedings in its native Switzerland.
In February, the High Court had rejected the Commerce Commission’s application to place an interim injunction against Viagogo. The injunction sought to prevent the use of “false and misleading” information around ticket prices and availability.
The judgement finds that, although the court “cannot finally determine a claim against a defendant while any protest to jurisdiction is outstanding”, the power “to grant interim relief is not limited in the same way”.
The Commission had claimed that Viagogo misled consumers by marketing itself as an “official” seller, exaggerating the scarcity of tickets, indicating tickets “guaranteed” entry and advertising ticket prices without including additional fees.
“The Commission will need to consider the changes made to Viagogo’s website, and decide whether in light of those changes it wishes to pursue its application for interim relief”
However, the judgement notes that “matters have moved on” since the hearing, stating that the Commission needs “to consider the changes made to Viagogo’s website, and decide whether in light of those changes it wishes to pursue its application for interim relief.”
A Viagogo spokesperson comments: “We have worked hard to address the New Zealand Commerce Commission’s concerns and remain committed to ensuring that Viagogo’s platform is compliant with the law.
To that end, given the extensive changes that have been made to the site, it is our hope that we can work directly with the Commerce Commission to resolve any outstanding issues.”
Viagogo legal action in an array of countries. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently halted proceedings against the site due to increased transparency, in a move that concerned anti-tout groups.
Courts in Australia and Germany have recently ordered Viagogo to make changes to the way it presents information. The site was banned from advertising through Google in a “landmark moment” in July.
NZ investigates Viagogo after ‘hundreds’ complain
The New Zealand Commerce Commission has begun “preliminary inquiries” into the business practices of Viagogo, joining its counterpart in Australia in investigating the secondary ticketing site for alleged breaches of consumer law.
As revealed on TVNZ’s Fair Go programme, the Commerce Commission launched its investigation after receiving “hundreds of complaints from customers” who feel misled by Viagogo, which critics argue masquerades as a primary-market site in order to lure in unexpected buyers.
Fair Go quotes one customer, Char Tata, who paid NZ$1,500 (US$1,086) for three Bruno Mars tickets when primary seller Ticketmaster still had inventory for as little as $99 each (US$79).
“If it’s costing people a lot of money, that’s a real concern for me”
“I thought when the sale went through, ‘Is he really that much?’,” said Tata. (Booking fees levied by sellers are typically not displayed until the check-out process.) “Is Bruno Mars worth that much?”
New Zealand’s minister of commerce and consumer affairs, Jacqui Dean (pictured), said it is “appalling that people are being deceived by a website”. “If it’s costing them a lot of money, then that’s a real concern for me,” she told the programme.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – the NZ Commerce Commission’s opposite number across the ditch – was passed evidence of alleged illegal activity by secondary ticket sellers on several sites, including Viagogo, in March.