Business News Legal Live Business

Viagogo successfully appeals million euro fine in Italy

By | Published on Monday 1 July 2019


Viagogo has successfully appealed a decision by the competition regulator in Italy. Last year it ordered the always controversial secondary ticketing website to pay a million euro fine for violating the country’s consumer protection code.

The list of Viagogo complaints published by Italian regulator AGCM was very familiar. The resale site failed to indicate the face value of tickets being sold on its site, didn’t publish seat number information and misled customers about the total cost of each ticket being sold. The resale platform’s frequent use of the term “official site” was also misleading.

AGCM initially fined Viagogo 300,000 euros for failing to comply with Italian law, bumping that up to a million in April 2018 for continued non-compliance.

However, the secondary ticketing outfit took the case to Italy’s Council Of State, which oversees the decisions of Italian government agencies. And, according to TheTicketingBusiness, it ruled in favour Viagogo on the basis the company was simply a “passive hosting provider”, and therefore not directly liable for the failure of sellers on its platform to provide all the information required by law.

When new secondary ticketing regulations came into force in the UK in 2015, many of the resale sites likewise tried to argue that the new obligations fell onto their sellers, and that they weren’t directly liable if said sellers didn’t provide newly required information. That line of argument was generally rejected over here.

Not in Italy though, where the Council Of State even ruled that Viagogo’s infamous use of the “official site” line – including in Google ads – was just fine. Even though doing so heavily implies that Viagogo is an official artist-approved seller of tickets, when it is no such thing.

Viagogo’s recently chatty boss Cris Miller unsurprisingly welcomed the ruling. He told TheTicketingBusiness: “We welcome this landmark judgment from Italy’s highest administrative court. We have always sought an open dialogue with the AGCM to ensure we are compliant with Italian consumer law”.

“We look forward to continuing discussions about the positive role Viagogo plays in Italy and around the world”, he went on, insisting that his touting platform makes it “possible for hundreds of thousands of people to have access to events that would otherwise not be accessible due to the limited number of tickets made available through event organisers and managers”.

The court’s decision comes despite Italy being a country where recent efforts to crack down on ticket touting have gone further than in many other markets.