Business News Digital Legal Live Business Top Stories

New Zealand regulator abandons Viagogo injunction bid after ticket resale platform makes changes to its website

By | Published on Friday 6 March 2020


The Commerce Commission in New Zealand has confirmed that it is no longer seeking an interim injunction against often controversial secondary ticketing platform Viagogo because it has voluntarily made changes to its website in the country. However, the government regulator plans to proceed with its wider legal case against the ticket resale operation.

The list of complaints against Viagogo provided by the NZ Commerce Commission when it first went legal in 2018 was very familiar, echoing many of the issues raised by the Competition & Markets Authority in the UK.

That included using language like “official”, “guarantee” and “about to sell out”, which was designed to confuse customers unfamiliar with the difference between primary and secondary ticketing. And also the use of drip pricing where customers are only told the total cost of buying tickets at the end of the ticket-buying process.

As part of its legal action, the Commission wanted an interim injunction from the court that would force Viagogo to address many of those complaints. But in February last year the court declined to issue such a speedy injunction on jurisdiction grounds, because the Commission hadn’t formally served notice against Viagogo in its home country of Switzerland. That decision was then overturned on appeal in October.

Both sides were due back in court today for another hearing on the interim injunction. But yesterday the Commission announced that it “will no longer seek an interim injunction against online event ticket seller Viagogo, after Viagogo made changes to its website and gave undertakings to the court that it would not undo those changes”.

Expanding on the latest development, the Commission’s Mary-Anne Borrowdale explained: “The changes Viagogo has made to its website have largely addressed the interim injunction application filed by the Commission alleging that Viagogo was misrepresenting the price and availability of tickets, and the ‘guarantees’ attached to tickets”.

“Importantly”, she added, “Viagogo has given undertakings to the court that it will not undo those changes or make new, similar representations. We consider that these changes and undertakings achieve what we sought … and mean we can avoid the time and cost of another hearing and advance our preparations towards the full case hearing”.

Viagogo has also made another concession regarding the jurisdiction of the New Zealand courts over its operations in the country, which it was expected to dispute in court today because of its Swiss base.

On that, Borrowdale said: “Until now Viagogo has said it is not answerable to the courts here, which has led to considerable expense and delay for the Commission. We think a company that sells New Zealand event tickets to New Zealand consumers should fall under New Zealand law, and we are pleased that Viagogo now accepts that too”.

Although the Commission is no longer seeking an interim injunction, the wider legal case it launched against Viagogo back in 2018 still stands and will continue to go through the motions.

Meanwhile, Borrowdale concluded by saying: “We still 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 or organiser’s website to find out who is the official ticket seller”.