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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

CMA calls for tighter laws to tackle illegal ticket resales

CMA calls for tighter laws to tackle illegal ticket resales


Proposed changes would impose greater obligations on platforms 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today (17 August) called for the sales of tickets on platforms such as viagogo and Stubhub to be subject to tighter rules. 

The CMA has made several recommendations to the government for changes to the law which would clamp down hard on platforms which sell tickets for events such as concerts and sports events. Proposed changes include:

•    a ban on platforms permitting resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market;
•    making platforms fully responsible for incorrect information about the tickets listed for sale;
•    a new system of licensing for platforms that sell secondary tickets, which would enable authorities to act promptly and issue sanctions, such as taking down websites, withdrawing a business’s right to operate in the sector, and impose substantial fines.

The CMA said under the current law, authorities are unable to take “swift and effective action” against professional resellers who illegally bulk-buy tickets, advertise tickets using incorrect information, or speculatively sell tickets they don’t have. 

Ticket resales is a lucrative sector; the CMA’s investigation into the acquisition of Stubhub by viagogo estimated the value of the tickets sold in 2019 through secondary ticketing websites as approximately £350m.

George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA, commented: “Over recent years we have taken strong action to protect people buying tickets from resellers online, and the secondary ticket websites are now worlds apart from those we saw before the CMA took action”.

The CMA has previously required viagogo and StubHub to remove misleading messaging about ticket availability and to alert customers if there is a risk they will be turned away at the door of events. 

Lusty added: “While it is clear that concerns about the sector remain, there are limits to what the CMA and other enforcers can do with their current powers. With live music and sporting events starting back up we want the government to take action to strengthen the current laws and introduce a licensing regime for secondary ticketing platforms.

“If adopted, these proposals will help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online and we stand ready to help the government to implement them.”