- It is an offence to deliberately purchase tickets to resell for a profit when an event is sold out.
- On 1 June 2018, NSW amended its laws to target and prevent ticket scalping.
- Tickets cannot be resold at excessively high mark-ups for profits.
- Those found guilty of the offences under the Fair Trading Act related to ticket scalping may be issued a fine of a maximum of 200 penalty units for individuals and 1000 penalty units for corporations.
On 30 June 2023, more than 4 million people scrambled the internet to purchase tickets to Taylor Swift’s Australian Era Tour to be held in February 2024. With an estimated 180,000 tickets available for purchase, the tickets sold out within hours. While some were successful, others were left disappointed after waiting for hours in the virtual queue and were desperate to find alternative ways to get their hands on tickets.
What does the law say about ticket reselling?
A person may legally resell their sold-out event ticket if they have purchased tickets but are no longer able to attend. It is, however, illegal to deliberately purchase tickets with the intention to resell the tickets at above retail prices for profit.
To prevent this illegal practice, NSW introduced laws targeting ticket scalping on 1 June 2018.
The amendments to the Fair Trading Act 1987 relating to ticket scalping:
- Only apply to events held in venues in NSW;
- Prohibit ticket resellers to make a profit of ticket reselling; and
- Make it an offence to resell a ticket for more than 10% of the original retail price plus transaction costs such as booking fees, ticket deliveries and credit card surcharge.
Whilst other states and territories in Australia have adopted similar laws, the laws referred to within this blog are limited to NSW.
Resale Advertisement Requirements
From 1 June 2018, ticket resellers are required to include the following in their advertisements:
- Original ticket cost;
- An asking price for the tickets that is no more than 10% above the retail price; and
- Disclose information regarding the position of the seat or specify it is a general admission ticket or similar.
What is the Penalty?
In accordance with the Fair Trading Act, a person found guilty of ticket scalping or failure to include required advertisement details is liable and fines may be imposed up to $110,000.00 for a corporation and $22,000.00 for individuals.
What are some Defences?
Section 58I of the Fair Trading Act, sets out the defences that may be raised by an offender for failing to ensure no prohibited advertisement is published. The offender will have to establish that:
- As soon as practicable after becoming aware of the prohibited advertisement, they took reasonable steps to ensure the advertisement was removed; and
- They took other reasonable steps to ensure no prohibited advertisement was published; and
- The agreement between them and the person placing the ticket resale advertisement was subject to the terms or conditions prohibiting the publication of the prohibited advertisement.
Understanding that your Ticket could be Cancelled
Some venues prohibit the reselling of tickets outside of their venues. If this is the case, or if a ticket is resold in breach of the ticket scalping laws under the Fair Trading Act, event organisers may be entitled to cancel the ticket and refuse entry to the person who holds it.
In the event that a ticket you have purchased on resell is cancelled, a buyer’s recourse against the original seller may be limited.
In 2017, the Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action against Viagogo after Viagogo, a ticket reselling company made false and misleading representations to consumers. The company deliberately created a fake urgency to buy tickets by claiming certain tickets were scarce. Viagogo additionally failed to adequately disclose that they were not the primary ticket sellers and failed to disclose their significantly inflated booking fee of 27.6% until late in the booking process.
In 2020, the Federal Court imposed a $7 million penalty and injunction against Viagogo for their serious misleading conduct to reinforce the need for adherence to the Australian Consumer Law.
How Coutts Can Help
Should you be thinking of buying resale tickets or planning to sell your purchased tickets on a resale platform and are unsure of your rights or obligations, then Coutts’ Litigation Team can assist you to ensure that all requirements under the Fair Trading Act are being met.
Contact Coutts today.
This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.