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British Government Strengthens Rules Around Secondary Ticketing

Representatives of the United Kingdom's live music industry have welcomed the introduction of enhanced regulations for the secondary ticketing market.

Representatives of the United Kingdom’s live music industry have welcomed the introduction of enhanced regulations for the secondary ticketing market.

Published Thursday (Feb. 15), new government guidance for all ticket resellers and secondary platforms operating in the U.K. includes two small, but potentially important changes to better protect consumers.

The first is clarification that secondary sites/vendors must include details of “any” restrictions a ticket contains, including those that prohibit its resale.


“For example, if in order to gain access to an event, specific ID, the original payment card and buying confirmation are required in order to gain access this should be made clear,” states the revised Consumer Rights Act guidance.

Previously, vendors were required to list restrictions that may apply to the use of the ticket, but it was not entirely clear whether that included resale restrictions or just applied to disabled access tickets or those with age limits. The new guidance removes that ambiguity.

The second change is that secondary vendors and websites will now be required to list a unique ticket number, if an event organizer or primary seller specifies one in its terms and conditions.

In principle, this new amendment means that promoters will be able to better identify and protect standing tickets from being traded on the secondary market. It would also allow “potential buyers to check directly with an event organizer whether a ticket exists and is valid.” The new rules come into effect in April with sellers or sites that breach the regulations facing fines of up to £5,000 ($7,000).

Under existing U.K. law, secondary sites are already required to provide consumers with details of a ticket’s original face value and information on its seat number and location inside a concert venue.

Despite those provisions, an ongoing investigation by government agency the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) “identified widespread concerns” that the law was regularly being broken and last year announced that it would be taking “enforcement action” against secondary ticketing websites that continue to break the law.


The CMA has since broadened the scope of its original investigation to look into pressure selling in the secondary market — just one of a number of ongoing inquiries into the sector.

In December, four people were arrested and a number of properties raided by National Trading Standards officers as part of an investigation into unfair practices in the market. 2017 also saw officers raid the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo after they failed to provide information to the CMA.

Last month, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee announced a new inquiry into live music, focusing on secondary ticketing. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is also investigating whether secondary ticketing websites have broken advertising rules.

Welcoming today’s updated guidance, a spokesperson for FanFair Alliance said, “If properly enforced, we believe these clarifications and updates will better protect U.K. audiences, artists and event organisers.”

“They should also provide greater clarity to secondary ticketing platforms of their legal responsibilities and increase overall transparency in what is still a murky and under-regulated sector,” added the spokesperson.

“All too often people are left feeling ripped off when buying tickets from resale websites,” said Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths in a statement. “Whether it’s a major music festival or a stadium concert, people want to know they’re paying a fair price for tickets to see the events they love,” he added, saying that the new rules would make “it easier for consumers to understand what they are buying to help save them from rip-off ticket prices.”

“Today’s guidance will give consumers even greater protection and transparency in the secondary market, helping Britain’s live events scene to continue to thrive,” added Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries.