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New Zealand declines to issue interim injunction against consumer confusing Viagogo

By | Published on Tuesday 19 February 2019


The high court in New Zealand has refused to grant the country’s Commerce Commission an interim injunction against Viagogo because of some tricky jurisdiction issues. Responding, the Commission said that its failure to secure a court order forcing the always controversial secondary ticketing website to changes its practices meant it was “even more important that consumers take steps to protect themselves” by always seeking official ticket sellers.

The New Zealand government agency followed its counterparts in the UK and Australia in launching legal action against Viagogo last year. Its court filing contained the usual list of complaints about how the company presents its ticket resale service to the public.

That included its use of the word “official”, the misleading information it published about ticket availability, and the fact Viagogo continues to insist all the tickets on its platform are valid, when in fact the terms of the ticket being resold may prohibit resale. The Commission argued that these things all breached New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act.

Those actual arguments are yet to be considered in court. The Commission’s bid to get an interim injunction demanding Viagogo make certain changes to its site was knocked back because of jurisdiction issues. Like all the best evil masterminds, Viagogo is based under a mountain in Switzerland. Well, in Switzerland anyway. And, the court said, the Commission had failed to formally serve notice against the resale business in its home country.

Explaining the judge’s ruling, the Commission stated: “The high court at Auckland held that it had no jurisdiction to determine the injunction application at this time, because Viagogo has not been formally served. Viagogo is based in Switzerland and has declined to accept service of the court proceedings in New Zealand. Service by diplomatic channels will take some months”. But, the government agency insisted, “there was no finding made on the substantive merits of the Commission’s case, which will be heard at a later hearing”.

Of course, by exploiting jurisdiction issues rather than responding to the Commission’s actual complaints, Viagogo was basically telling all of its customers in New Zealand that if they have any issues with its service, they must travel 11,650 miles and shout at a mountain. Nevertheless, the company said the ruling in Auckland was “a significant legal victory”.

It added in a statement: “For over a decade, millions of customers have been successfully using Viagogo, which is why we remain committed to providing a secure platform for people to sell as well as buy sport, music and entertainment tickets to events in New Zealand and all over the world”.

Though, presumably, if those millions of customers ever have a problem with the touting platform but can’t afford to fly over to Switzerland to complain in person, well, they can just fuck off.

Meanwhile, back at the Commerce Commission, officials are hoping that media attention around their legal action will, at least, educate more consumers about the difference between primary and secondary ticketing services, and the risk of buying off touts, and especially touts who sell via Viagogo.

Its Chairman Dr Mark Berry said: “The fact the court did not make orders limiting Viagogo’s website claims makes it even more important that consumers take steps to protect themselves. We urge ticket buyers to purchase from official ticket websites. Avoid clicking on the first internet search result you see for an event. Scroll down the page and find the official ticket outlet or if you aren’t sure visit the artist’s website to find out who the official ticket seller is”.

Although the court declined to issue an interim injunction, the Commission’s case against Viagogo continues. A date for a full hearing is still to be set.