Business News Legal Live Business Top Stories

Viagogo says it could challenge French ticket touting ban in the European courts

By | Published on Tuesday 18 December 2018


Viagogo has said that it is now considering all options following last week’s ruling by the Constitutional Council in France that a ticket touting ban in the country conforms with the French constitution. That includes, the controversial secondary ticketing platform adds, includes possibly taking the matter to the European courts.

France was one of the first countries to introduce new regulations as online ticket touting really started to gain momentum at the start of this decade. A new law in 2012 basically outlawed the resale of tickets for profit without the permission of an event’s promoter.

In more recent years, an increasing number of countries have been considering regulating the secondary ticketing market. That includes putting a statutory limit on how much resold tickets can be marked up; or forcing resale platforms to be more transparent about who is selling a ticket and the risks associated with buying from unofficial sellers; or – as in France – an out-right ban on resale.

Perhaps even more importantly, existing regulations are starting to be better enforced, either by government agencies, or through legal action by the live sector, which is now underway in France itself. To that end, Viagogo asked the French Constitutional Council to consider whether the country’s ticket touting ban was actually in breach of rights protected by the country’s constitution.

The secondary ticketing firm argues that the ban “infringes the freedom of trade, challenges the right of ownership which grants everyone the freedom to use their property as they see fit, and consequently grants a de facto monopoly to event organisers”.

However, last week the Constitutional Council ruled that the touting ban was in fact compliant with the French constitution, rejecting Viagogo’s various arguments.

In a statement, Viagogo says that it “notes” last week’s ruling and is now “considering all the options available … including bringing an action before the European Court Of Justice”. The latter would involve arguing that France’s tout ban contravened EU law.

Viagogo’s statement goes on to say that “France is one of the few countries in the world to have chosen a ban on reselling tickets without the agreement of the organiser of a show or sporting event”. Although it opposes such laws, the company then says that it does support measures that will “make resale operations more transparent”.

That might include the transparency measures recently forced on the company here in the UK by the Competition & Markets Authority.

Having traditionally been very good at ignoring both regulations and its critics, Viagogo is now having to deal with legal action and potential new anti-touting legislation in multiple countries all at once. It has made some compromises in a bid to placate some regulators and law-makers, though at the same time seems keen to carry on fighting in other cases. It will be interesting to see what its next move is in France.