From 6 April 2018, new rules enter into force which will impact significantly on the online resale of events tickets in the UK, bringing notable changes to the manner in which tickets may be resold for admission to sporting events, as well as other recreational and cultural events.
These new requirements come into force under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to increase the amount of mandatory information which must be provided by those attempting to resell tickets online. This regulatory change is broadly intended to better ensure that tickets are sold to fans and other individuals with a genuine interest in attending relevant live events, and towards discouraging reselling by ‘ticket touts’ and others seeking to only profit from any onward sale.
These changes in particular require that those attempting to resell events tickets following initial purchase provide the prospective buyer with certain pieces of key information before any contract of onward sale is concluded, namely:
- where applicable, sufficient details to allow the prospective purchaser to identify any particular seated or standing area applicable;
- information regarding any restrictions limiting admission only to certain individuals (for example, stating that identification documentation is required or that only those over 18 years of age may be admitted); and
- details of the original face value ticket price.
In addition, where the re-seller has any connections to the online facility being used for onwards sale, or with the event organiser or primary seller, details surrounding this must also be disclosed. Further, if that event organiser or primary seller has applied a unique ticket number to the relevant ticket, this will also need to be supplied to the new purchaser.
These rules apply regardless of whether the person seeking to resell tickets is a business or private individual. It is rather only required that the ticket(s) are being resold using a ‘secondary ticketing facility’, which for these purposes is legally defined as “an internet-based facility for the re-sale of tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events”. In practice this would include websites or app-based services offering a secondary marketplace for the onwards resale of tickets for sporting events.
It is intended that these new requirements will benefit fans of sporting and other live events by ensuring that enhanced details are made available illustrating exactly what is being purchased from the original seller and in a manner that should better inform an understanding of whether a fair price is being paid.
In recognition that circumstances may arise where genuine buyers of tickets cannot attend the particular event, these measures exist alongside restrictions on the ability of event organisers to prevent or restrict their onward resale on a secondary platform.
It follows that organisers are not permitted to cancel a ticket or carry out any blacklisting of the given re-seller unless a term was included in the original sale contract permitting such action in the circumstances and only where this term can be deemed ‘not unfair’ (as would be assessed with reference to relevant unfair contract terms rules).
Where tickets are being offered for resale to consumers, these rules will also apply in parallel to regulations on distance selling applicable in circumstances where sales are concluded online. These separate requirements may necessitate, for example, that specific information is provided of any additional charges or booking fees (while noting that related buyer cancellation rights do not apply for events tickets, on the basis that the relevant booking will be attached to a specific date or time period).