Press release

Independent secondary ticketing review published today

The government has published an independent report into the consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities.

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The government has today (26 May 2016) published an independent report into the consumer protection measures concerning online secondary ticketing facilities.

Professor Michael Waterson, economics professor at Warwick University, led the independent review to assess consumer protection measures that apply to the online resale of tickets for events in the UK – including music, sporting and other cultural and recreational events. It aimed to identify any problems for consumers and potential ways to address them.

Professor Waterson said:

I approached this review without preconceptions. In pursuing it, I attempted to engage widely, to develop an analytical understanding of the ticketing industry as a whole, and to provide practical recommendations for change where necessary.

Baroness Neville Rolfe said:

I would like to thank Professor Waterson for completing this review. His work has provided significant insights into the ticketing market. This is a topic that attracts great interest and a wide range of views, so an independent voice is very welcome. The government will respond to this report in due course.

Professor Waterson found there was work to be done and made a number of recommendations for all concerned with ticketing and the resale of tickets including both the primary and secondary markets.

His recommendations include a challenge to secondary ticketing platforms to ensure sellers on their platforms fully observe the rules set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – this means providing information such as the face value of the ticket, the exact seat location, and any restrictions on the user of the ticket (e.g. age). Where necessary, enforcement action should be undertaken.

Professor Waterson also recommends that secondary platforms play a role in identifying traders and ensuring their details are provided to consumers.

A further recommendation is that primary ticket vendors should guard against the possibility of mass purchase by individuals (who have no intention of attending the event) in breach of contractual terms including by using ‘bots’. This deprives ordinary consumers of the chance to acquire tickets at the price originally established by the event organiser.

He also recommends that primary market operators need to increase transparency and come together to standardise the way in which information on available ticket outlets and the pricing structure is made available to the public.

Professor Waterson also believes more should be done to inform consumers seeking tickets about how the market operates across both primary and secondary sellers.

The government will be responding to the report in due course.

Notes to editors:

  • see the review here
  • “secondary ticketing facility” means an internet-based facility for the re-sale of tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events
  • Part 3, Chapter 5, section 94 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 places a statutory duty on the Secretary of State “to review, or arrange for a review of, consumer protection measures applying to the re-sale of tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events in the UK through secondary ticketing facilities”
  • the statutory duty includes an obligation on the Secretary of State to prepare a report on the outcome of the review or arrange for such a report to be prepared and publish the report
  • the report must also be laid in Parliament

Terms of Reference for the review

  1. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have jointly commissioned an independent review of consumer protection in the ticket re-sale market (‘the secondary market’) as required by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Through the review, the government sought to assess the protections available to purchasers of tickets for events, identification of issues for consumers and proposals for how such issues might be addressed. The review covers tickets for recreational, sporting and cultural events in the UK.

  2. The review was tasked to consider consumer protection measures (including legislation, rules of law, codes of practice, industry standards and guidance) that apply to the resale of tickets and, if necessary, make recommendations on ways to improve the position. In particular it has considered:
    • how and how soon (after being launched on the primary market) tickets come to be available on the secondary market
    • existing voluntary and statutory protections (including those introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015) available to:
      • those buying from an individual or trader
      • those buying via a provider approved by relevant event organisers (primary or secondary)
      • those buying via an online secondary ticketing marketplace, or from a secondary ticketing facility that is not approved by relevant event organisers
    • whether existing protections are helping consumers, including consumers’ experiences of the new transparency measures of the Consumer Rights Act 2015
    • event marketing and ticketing strategies in relation to the best interests of consumers
    • the characteristics and status of those selling on the secondary market
    • how protections are currently enforced and how effective this is proving
    • methods by which verification of ticket authenticity can be achieved for prospective purchasers
    • prices, costs and charges on the primary and secondary markets
    • alternative models for promoting consumer protection in the re-sale market
    • terms and conditions of sale and the availability of returns/refunds
    • alternative distribution mechanisms for tickets (e.g. staggered release, release directly to the secondary market etc.)
    • transparency requirements when event organisers sell their tickets on the secondary market
  3. The review was required to report on or before 26 May 2016 - 12 months after the commencement of the provisions on “secondary ticketing” in the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

  4. The review was led by Professor Michael Waterson, Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick, who has been appointed jointly by the Secretaries of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Culture, Media and Sport. To deliver the review’s objectives, Professor Waterson oversaw a public call for evidence and a survey of online customers. He also had access to advice from external experts and administrative support from a small team of civil servants.
Published 26 May 2016