Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Second Report

Legislation relevant to secondary selling

UK Legislation

40. Under section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (as amended) it is a criminal offence for an unauthorised person to sell or otherwise dispose of a ticket for a designated football match, which covers the vast majority of professional football matches played in England and Wales or featuring professional English and Welsh clubs and national representative teams playing abroad. The legislation was introduced following the Hillsborough disaster as a public order and safety measure, to ensure that fans of different teams are segregated. There is power to extend this offence by Statutory Instrument to any sporting events for which more than 6,000 tickets are issued for sale. Under section 31 of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 it will be an offence to sell an Olympic ticket (without authorisation from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) in a public place or in the course of a business: this will cover acts such as offering or advertising for sale where the person makes or aims to make a profit. DCMS said that it had been a formal requirement for the Government to accept restrictions on secondary sales of tickets for profit when it elected to bid for the Games.[139]

41. In oral evidence the Rt Hon Shaun Woodward, who was then the DCMS Minister with responsibility for creative industries and tourism, told us that the requirement was there because there would be a huge demand for tickets for Olympic events, which would be ripe for gross exploitation by the secondary market, and that careful control of tickets was therefore needed to ensure fair access.[140] This argument can, of course, be made for most popular events and certainly all the top sports tournaments.

42. Street trading without a licence is an offence and trading standards may take action against those who buy and sell tickets outside venues. In Scotland, touting in a public place is an offence under section 55 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, but this offence requires an element of giving reasonable cause for annoyance. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill, which was introduced into the Scottish Parliament on 9 November 2007, and which is required to support the delivery of the 2014 Games, would prohibit unauthorised sale of Games tickets in excess of face value. The Explanatory Memorandum states that, although the Bill cannot make touting activity an offence in other jurisdictions, it would make touting of tickets for the Games outside Scotland an offence under Scots law. We note that the UK Government has agreed in principle to extend to England and Wales a ban on unauthorised resale of tickets for the Games.[141] The pre-regulatory impact assessment states: "Fairness and equity are seen as the first principle of any ticketing strategy, as outlined in the 'Commonwealth Games Manual: Ticketing'. Any ticket touting would undermine that principle, reduce equity of access and erode public confidence in the Games." The manual also states that "Appropriate regulations should be put in place to prevent ticket scalping".

43. The Football Association told us that the 1994 Act had been "somewhat successful in marginalising the 'street touts' around football matches, helping to alleviate the public order problems caused by touting", but that the 130 convictions since 2001 represented the tip of an iceberg. and more needed to be done to enforce the legislation.[142] The Association added that the Act had greatly assisted and enabled the law enforcement agencies and the football authorities to work together to crack down on touting, and that because unauthorised reselling was an offence, it was easier to persuade courts to grant injunctions restraining touting, and to persuade virtual auction sites to take down offers of football tickets.

44. The Price Indications (Resale of Tickets) Regulations 1994 require traders reselling tickets in the course of a business to provide buyers with all relevant information including face value of the ticket, location of the seat and any restrictions which may apply, but these regulations do not apply to consumer-to-consumer transactions. Accordingly they do not apply to sales between consumers on internet auction sites, although we were told that some internet sites do now require sellers to show the face value and more information about the general location of the ticket and whether there would be a restricted view.[143]

Overseas legislation

45. The secondary ticket market is not unique to the UK, and the evidence to the inquiry included references to problems experienced, and statutory solutions attempted, in Australia and in the United States, where touting is known as "scalping". Witnesses told us that long-standing anti-scalping laws were being relaxed in some American states, such as New York,[144] while in Queensland new legislation has been passed making it an offence to resell or buy a ticket for an event at a major sports facility at a price greater than 10% above the original ticket price. [145] The Rt. Hon. Shaun Woodward, then Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism at DCMS, commented that it was apparent from these different trends that there was no clear consensus on how to act and he emphasized that he did not think that there was any simple resolution.[146] He also said that the reason why anti-scalping legislation had been repealed in New York was that the New York Yankees baseball team wanted to take more control over their own tickets.[147] Advanced Ticket Services told us that many American states had recently passed bills to eliminate or ease prevailing restrictions on the secondary ticket market, and that the resale restrictions had all been lifted in the face of "overwhelming resistance from leading sports bodies, music artists and theatre promoters".[148]

46. While we consider that it would be unwise to assume that problems caused by ticket touting are necessarily the same worldwide, or that measures used to ameliorate the problems in one country would necessarily be effective in another, there may be lessons to be learned. The different trends now observed in different parts of the United States and Australia strongly suggest that legislatures there are seeking to contend with problems whose nature depends on how touting and national attitudes to it have developed over the years in those countries. We recommend that DCMS, with the assistance of the industry, should undertake a comparative analysis of what problems have arisen in other countries, including other European countries, what measures (if any) have been introduced to deal with them, and whether such measures have been regarded as successful in tackling the problems they were intended to address.

139   Ev 76 Back

140   Q 160 Back

141   HC Deb, 10 December 2007, col. 103W Back

142   Ev 4-6 Back

143   All England Law Tennis Club Ev 10, Mr Alastair McGowan, Head of Public Affairs, eBay UK Ltd, Q 106 Back

144   eBay Ev 42, viagogo Ev 52, ASTA Ev 54, DCMS/DTI Ev 76, Advanced Ticket Systems Ev 89, Mr Woodward, Qq 125, 144  Back

145   DCMS Ev 76, Concert Promoters Association Ev 16 Back

146   Q 128 Back

147   Q 144 Back

148   Advanced Ticket Systems Ev 89 Back

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