A recent court case has reminded consumers and websites that they need to check the terms and conditions of tickets carefully to avoid legal action
People could find themselves out of pocket or threatened with legal action if they resell tickets to events they can't attend.
A recent court case won by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) against ticket reselling site Viagogo has thrown into doubt what people can do with their unwanted tickets because of events holders' terms and conditions.
The issue of a blanket legal ban on reselling tickets for high-profile events was investigated by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2008 but ruled out.
Reselling tickets therefore is not illegal, unless they are for the Olympics or football matches.
Yet the case shows event holders may have found a loophole. Although they often make it difficult to get or refuse to give refunds, their terms and conditions often say tickets cannot be resold or can only be resold below their face value.
It was on this basis that the RFU took online ticket reselling company Viagogo to the High Court recently.
It alleged the site had allowed people to resell tickets to England's recent Six Nations home matches or the 2010 autumn international fixtures at Twickenham at more than the face value.
The RFU argued that its terms and conditions had been breached. It said this meant people who bought the tickets had no right to attend the game and were trespassers.
While there is no suggestion that the sellers were ticket touts, Justice Tugendhat upheld the RFU's argument. It ordered Viagogo to supply the RFU not only with the names, addresses and credit card information of the sellers, but also release the price and stadium location of tickets.
The RFU has said it intends to pursue the sellers for redress.
Viagogo told Computeractive that it was surprised at the legal action.
"We specialise in the secondary ticket market and have not heard of any similar action before when the people are not ticket touts," said a representative for the site.
However, Keith Arrowsmith, head of Intellectual Property & Media for Ralli Solicitors said: "With the 2012 events fast approaching, ticket sales on the web are likely to be carefully monitored."
He also said sites would have to be more careful about event holders' terms and conditions as sellers whose details are handed over could sue them.
"It has become common practice for website owners to rely on standard
terms and conditions when dealing with customers and advertisers on the
"I suggest web terms should be reviewed, to make sure promises of
confidentiality take into account the overriding powers of the courts,
or else customers may have the right to sue the website owner; even if
the owner only reveals confidential information on the basis of a court
order," he said.
We have tried to contact the RFU for comment and to ask what legal action it may take against the sellers. We also wanted to know if it also intended to go after buyers of the tickets as well. To date the RFU representative dealing with this case has not returned our calls.
Viagogo said it is considering an appeal.
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