Last week, the House of Commons considered the Lords’ amendments to the DMCC Bill – and disagreed with some of them. The Bill has now been returned to the Lords with reasons for their disagreement with the Lords amendments – the so-called “ping pong” stage.  Some of the disagreements concerned the provisions about digital markets and competition law reform, but this article only covers the consumer law changes.

The CMA asked for changes to secondary ticketing rules back in 2021, but the UK government refused, saying there were more important priorities to consider when it came to consumer law reform. 

Despite that, the Lords had introduced some new provisions about secondary ticketing. They provide that secondary ticketing facilities must not allow tickets to be listed for resale without the business/trader providing proof of purchase or title to the tickets, and resellers must not be permitted to sell more event tickets than they can legally purchase from the primary market. In addition, the face value of the resale ticket (and the trader or business’s name and trading address) must be clearly visible, in full, on the first page of the ticket and not hidden behind an icon. A secondary ticketing facility must make it clear to traders and businesses based overseas that they are subject to UK regulation if they sell tickets to UK consumers and target UK consumers through paid or sponsored advertisements or paid infomercials.

The government has rejected the changes. It says that it is committed to protecting consumers from fraudulent activity in the secondary ticketing market. However, as it said in its response to the CMA, it believes that protections for consumers are already provided by existing consumer law. According to the government, the law already imposes specific information requirements in relation to secondary ticketing, including a requirement for all resellers, be they traders or consumers, and secondary ticketing platforms to inform a buyer about the face value of a ticket and the restrictions on its use. The government’s position is therefore that the secondary ticketing market is already suitably regulated. 

The government says it recognises the strength of feeling on this matter, both in the Commons and the Lords, so it said that it will undertake a review of ticketing practices and how they affect consumers. The review will look at both primary and secondary markets, i.e. both sellers and resellers. The government believes that it is important to consider both markets together.

Another point made during the Commons debate was about the difference between regulation and enforcement. We have previously written about the lack of resources for trading standards authorities to enforce the rules around promoting foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, and the same issues arise with regard to secondary ticketing rules.  Trading standards simply do not have the resources to enforce consumer law adequately – there have only been six prosecutions for breaching the current rules on secondary ticketing.

What happens next?

The Bill returns to the Lords on 14 May.  It seems likely that the Lords will accept the promise of a review and allow the Bill to proceed to Royal Assent – but the ping pong could continue…