A code of conduct for universal terms and conditions for tickets has been developed for consumers in the U.K., following an agreement between the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).

STAR represents primary sellers and some agents, but not the secondary market. It is associated with theater tickets but its members also sell concert tickets.

Under the new rules, consumers will be entitled to a refund on any booking fee as well as the ticket in the event of a cancelation. Tickets will clearly state the conditions for resale and any dispute between ticket-holders and sellers will lead to STAR stepping in to resolve the situation.

The new rules were drawn up partly in response to the OFT's 2005 market study of ticket agents, which found that some sellers had terms that might be considered unfair.

"STAR has been protecting consumers from sharp practices for over 10 years, but there is more work to be done, as complaints about online ticket scams and street touts continue to flood in," said Jonathan Brown, Secretary of STAR, in a statement.

"We need to improve consumer awareness of what to look for when buying tickets, so people can avoid paying inflated prices or risk losing everything if something goes wrong. Adoption of the model terms represents a firm commitment to excellent customer service, and providing clear and transparent information about the tickets on sale."

However, Eric Baker, CEO of secondary ticket service Viagogo, said that ticket-holders should have the right to re-sell tickets if they cannot attend a show, which he described as "the law of the land that is not up to the whims of individual event promoters and/or ticket issuers."

He added that fans should also have the right to be guaranteed that tickets will be as promised, authentic, and delivered on time for the event; and the right to a full refund - including fees - through a simple, painless process if an event is canceled.

"Unfortunately, these alleged 'improvements' are little more than window dressing in an attempt to cover for the fact that fans are not being given the same protections that they get at Viagogo and to which they are entitled," he said in a statement.

"In general the introduction of these new terms is a positive development, however their impact could be limited," said Neil Adleman, partner at London-based media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis. "There are a number of agents who are not STAR members and who therefore will not be adopting these new terms. STAR members' involvement in the secondary ticketing market (which is an area which generates many of the consumer complaints) in particular is limited. The secondary market is a growth area and will not be significantly impacted by these new terms."

Adleman added: "Many complaints arise from those operating at the fringes of the industry who fail to comply with fundamental requirements such as disclosing the face value of tickets. Clearly these are the sort of operators who are unlikely to be STAR members and be signing up to the new terms. However, STAR are suggesting that they will be seeking to more actively promote STAR membership to the public as a sign of ticket agents they can trust. This may therefore serve indirectly to address the issue of less honest operators.

"Ultimately therefore I think the new terms will help to provide greater certainty on issues such as refunds, cancellations and the resale of tickets when consumers deal with those agents who are STAR members but may do little to address issues with less honest operators at the fringes of the industry."