Jessica Greenhalgh – solicitor in our Corporate/Commercial department – discusses Secondary Ticket Reselling

Jessica Greenhalgh, Corporate & Commercial department solicitor at Davis Blank Furniss

The government has recently published its response to an independent review into secondary ticket reselling.

There are two main types of secondary ticket reselling. The first is when an individual sells a ticket online when they can no longer attend an event to a third party so as not to make a loss, for example on websites such as ‘Stubhub’. The second involves companies that operate profit making businesses by buying tickets in bulk from event organisers and agents as soon as they go on sale and then immediately reselling them online usually at an inflated price. In order to purchase tickets they often use software known as bots. This is one of the reasons concert tickets sell out in several seconds but then hundreds of tickets are available on third party websites. The use of bots often prevents actual fans purchasing tickets.

The first type of reselling is reasonable and should be allowed to continue provided that the reseller only receives face value for the ticket. The second type of reselling is under increased public scrutiny with online petitions to make the reselling of concert tickets illegal and celebrities like Ed Sheeran are reporting exasperation over tour tickets being re-sold at increased prices.

The government has considered the recommendations made in the independent review and provided clarity on its approach going forward.

The focus is on making the most of the legislation already in place and involving various agencies to assist in investigations and enforcement action to improve the standards adopted by ticket resellers.

The onus is on both the primary ticket industry to improve the information given to consumers (and to ensure terms that prevent resale are fair to consumers); and the platforms that allow third parties to resell tickets. It is a complex market and improvements can be made by helping customers understand and identify the difference between the primary and secondary markets.

Amendments to the Digital Economy Bill received Royal Assent on 27th April 2017, making it an offence to use bots to purchase tickets in bulk.

Although the government’s response does not go as far as many commentators would like, it is a positive step towards increased ethics and transparency in the industry.

Awareness of these changes are important for customers so that they understand what they are buying and for secondary ticket resellers so that they can ensure compliance with the move towards the increased standards.

We will keep you updated as further developments occur.

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