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Secondary ticketing

Published Thursday, March 14, 2019

This Commons briefing paper considers recent initiatives to regulate the secondary ticketing market, including important new measures contained in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Digital Economy Act 2017.

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The online resale of tickets (the secondary ticketing market) applies to recreational, sporting or cultural events in the UK. Secondary ticketing, especially pricing, is a subject that attracts great public interest. This Commons briefing paper considers recent initiatives to regulate the secondary ticketing market.

Following the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015), the Government commissioned an independent report by Professor Michael Waterson to explore the effectiveness of consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities. Published in May 2016, Professor Waterson’s report made 9 recommendations to make the ticketing market work better for consumers.

In June 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began a separate compliance review of the secondary ticketing market. This was followed, on 19 December 2016, by the CMA opening an enforcement investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the online secondary tickets market. 

The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee have also held two one-off evidence sessions into ticket abuse. The first session took place on 15 November 2016 and considered the problem of software being used to harvest tickets from primary sellers. The CMS Committee held a further one-off evidence session on 21 March 2017.

The Government published its response to Professor Waterson’s report on 13 March 2017. As well as accepting the report’s recommendations in full, the Government said that it intended to respond with proposals which Parliament would be invited to consider within the context of the Digital Economy Bill. The Bill received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.

In respect of secondary ticketing, the Act introduced the following provisions:

  • criminalise the use of bots to purchase tickets in excess of a maximum number and puts the ICO's direct marketing code on a statutory footing; and
  • require re-sellers to provide "any unique ticket number that may help the buyer to identify the seat or standing area or its location."











Commons Briefing papers SN04715

Author: Lorraine Conway

Topic: Consumers

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