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France reaffirms anti-secondary law after failed legal challenge

The Constitutional Council (Conseil constitutionnel), the court-like body tasked with upholding the constitutionality of legislation in France, has rejected a legal bid that sought to overturn the country’s anti-secondary ticketing law.

The decision was issued today (14 December) in response to a question prioritaire de constitutionnalité (QPC) disputing the legality of French legislation that prohibits unauthorised ticket touting. France’s law №2012-348 – passed on 12 March 2012 – allows for fines up of up to €30,000 for anyone caught reselling tickets without the permission of the event organiser or rightsholder.

The challenge was brought by two Viagogo companies, Viagogo AG and Viagogo Entertainment, and backed by eBay/StubHub-owned Ticketbis, according to the council’s decision.

QPCs, or priority questions of constitutionality, were introduced by the Sarkozy government in 2008 as a mechanism for challenging legislation targeted at a particular sector or group of individuals.

Successful previous QPCs include an objection to the 3% tax formerly levied on distributed profits, which was struck down as unconstitutional in early 2015, and a legal challenge to then-prime minister Manuel Valls’s controversial plans for new surveillance powers, defeated in October 2016.

“This decision strongly reinforces the French law, which protects consumers, fans, artists and promoters”

Rejecting the secondary ticketers’ argument that to restrict reselling tickets constitutes a “disproportionate breach of freedom of enterprise”, the Constitutional Council’s decision declares that it “must be made possible to combat […] an artificial increase in the price of tickets”, and further notes that resale is only prohibited if it “takes place without the authorisation of the producer, organiser of the owner of the rights” to the show.

As the law “does not violate any other right or freedom guaranteed by the constitution, it must be declared [constitutional],” it concludes.

The decision was welcomed by promoters’ association Prodiss, to which Viagogo is believed to some hundreds of thousands of euros in fines for violations of law 348.

Malika Séguineau, the association’s director, says: “This decision strongly reinforces the French law. The law protects consumers, fans, artists and promoters against the risks posed by the illicit resale of tickets.

“We welcome today’s decision – especially as Prodiss, alongside several promoters, have in parallel filed a criminal action against Viagogo, for which the judge is soon to be appointed. Our legal actions go alongside our campaign, Fan Pas Gogo.”


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