The crackdown on ticket touting continues in England

Published 23 September 2013 | Authored by: Adam Lovatt

This blog considers the implications of the recent High Court decision which found that a British couple were liable for ticket touting and as a result are unable to purchase tickets for future international cricket matches.

As discussed in a previous blog, the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act provides that it is an offence for an unauthorised person to sell or otherwise dispose of tickets for football matches in England and Wales. No such specific statutory provision is in place for other sports such as cricket and rugby.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (the “ECB”) raised a civil action in the High Court for breach of contract against Mr & Mrs Hubscher who used sites such as Viagogo to sell tickets for the five match Ashes test cricket series between England and Australia during this summer. The tickets were acquired by the couple for tests in London, Manchester and Durham and were sold on to third parties through ticket re-sale websites for a profit.

The ticket touting was stopped by the ECB following checks which were carried out during the Fourth Test in Durham in August and numerous tickets were cancelled as a result of the touting. The ECB’s tough stance on ticket touting has been proved to be effective in the fight against this practice.

The implications of the decision should not be underestimated. As with other governing bodies such as the Rugby Football Union (the “RFU”) who have recently been successful in an action against Viagogo in seeking that the names of those reselling tickets on that website be disclosed.1 It is clear that there is now a concerted effort in place from sporting bodies  to subject ticket touts to stricter policing and that the ordinary fan should not be as restricted in their ability to buy tickets due to the opportunism of touts who acquire tickets in bulk from event organisers and seek to sell them on for excessive profit.

It is foreseeable that in due course pressure will be put on legislators to create a statute which will seek to eradicate ticket touting. In light of the growing number of individuals who are seemingly keen to sell tickets to third parties, it would be feasible for governing bodies and clubs to form a pressure group to bend the ear of those in Westminster to bring in a statute which creates, for other sports, the sort of restriction that is in place for football.

Demand is outstripping supply for many sporting events in the United Kingdom and with the Rugby World Cup and World Athletics Championships both due to take place in England and Wales over the next few years (together with another Ashes series in 2015), now would appear to be as good a time as any for the governing bodies of sport in this country to seek to have a statute put in place which would seek to prevent ticket touting and the need for recourse to Court to stamp out the opportunism of individuals such as Mr & Mrs Hubscher. The days of ticket touting may be coming to an end if the effective and concerted efforts of the likes of the ECB and RFU reach a reasonable and sensible outcome. Hopefully, this will  benefit a large number of sports fans who want to attend top sporting events in this country.



Rugby Football Union v Viagogo Limited [2012] UKSC 55

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About the Author

Adam Lovatt

Adam Lovatt

Adam is a lawyer specialising in sports law with IMG. Adam has a wide range of commercial and litigation experience from his four years as a qualified solicitor. Adam has a passion for sports law and is currently undertaking a IP Law Masters programme with the University of London. He is passionate about most sports particularly football, golf and tennis.

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Comments (2)

  • Tony JP Paterson

    24 September 2013 at 10:00 | #

    interesting piece. Are there any statutory provisions north of the border prohibiting touting. I have noted tickets are on sites such as EBay for this season's Champions League games involving Celtic? Or are club's left to police this type of action themselves?


  • Adam Lovatt

    24 September 2013 at 17:13 | #

    Hi Tony

    Thanks for your comment.

    There is no legislation in Scotland as far as I am aware in respect of ticket touting and therefore clubs police this themselves.

    There are ticket exchange sites which of course allow tickets to be sold legally when authorised by clubs.



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