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Owain Rhys James discusses the Consumer Protection Act and the secondary-ticket market

Owain Rhys James appeared on ITV/S4C’s current affairs programme, “Y Byd ar Bedwar” on Tuesday night, together with ITV News, discussing online ticket sales and the secondary-ticket market.

Ymddangosodd Owain Rhys James ar rhaglen materion cyfoes S4C “Y Byd ar Bedwar – Taclo’r Towts” nos Fawrth yn trafod y farchnad docynnau eilaidd. Brodor o Gaerdydd, mae Owain yn gwneud achosion yn y Gymraeg ac yn barod i drafod materion drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg gyda cyfreithwyr a chleientiau. Gellir cysylltu a’i glerc am fwy o wybodaeth.

 With the Rugby World Cup in full flight, the secondary-ticket market is back in the news as fans try their best to buy last minute tickets, often at hugely inflated prices.

The Consumer Protection Act 2015 is the most recent update to the law protecting consumers. Specific sections of the Act were introduced in May to tackle problems with the secondary ticketing market, with the remainder of the Act coming into force today.

The measures dealing with ticketing are aimed directly at online sites which either sell or act as an exchange for tickets to all recreational, sporting and cultural events in the UK.

The legislation is admirably clear. Section 90 (3) requires specific information to be provided when a  ticket is being sold, namely:

“ (a)where the ticket is for a particular seat or standing area at the venue for the event, the information necessary to enable the buyer to identify that seat or standing area,

(b)information about any restriction which limits use of the ticket to persons of a particular description, and

(c)the face value of the ticket.”

It continues, in Section 90 (4) to specify what details amount  to the “information necessary to enable the buyer to identify the seat or standing area” as:

“ (a)the name of the area in the venue in which the seat or standing area is located (for example the name of the stand in which it is located),

(b)information necessary to enable the buyer to identify the part of the area in the venue in which the seat or standing area is located (for example the block of seats in which the seat is located),

(c)the number, letter or other distinguishing mark of the row in which the seat is located, and

(d)the number, letter or other distinguishing mark of the seat.”

All of the required information must be given:

“(a)in a clear and comprehensible manner, and

(b)before the buyer is bound by the contract for the sale of the ticket”

Sites which only give details of the category of the seat prior to a consumer purchasing a ticket, as opposed to providing the information required above, may fall foul of the new requirements.

It is worth noting that there is no private law cause of action or remedy available under the Act. Rather, local weights and measures authorities (that’s trading standards) may fine offending sellers and websites up to a maximum of £5,000.

Finally, a word of warning that usual contractual principles may also leave spectators out of pocket. The Act allows tickets to be cancelled when re-sold and for re-sellers to be blacklisted only where such terms are expressly set out in the terms of the ticket. Therefore, where the terms and conditions of a ticket state that it is non-transferable or may not be sold at more than its face value then purchasing a ticket in breach of those terms may result in entry being refused at the gate!