Business News Digital Legal Live Business

Viagogo allowed to hold off paying AUS$7 million fine pending appeal of Australian court ruling

By | Published on Thursday 4 March 2021


A court in Australia has said that Viagogo can hold off paying a fine of AUS$7 million pending its appeal in a legal action pursued against it by the Australian Competition And Consumer Commission.

The often controversial secondary ticketing firm said that paying the fine right now would be a cash flow nightmare because of all that COVID nonsense. The $4 billion sum it paid to buy StubHub just before COVID kicked off can’t have helped either.

The ACCC launched legal action against Viagogo in 2017 amid allegations that the ticket resale site deliberately misled consumers into thinking they were buying tickets from official sellers rather than unofficial touts. In 2019, the Australian courts ruled that the secondary ticketing firm had indeed made false or misleading representations and “engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public”.

Viagogo is appealing that ruling, but last year the court nevertheless ordered the firm to pay a fine of AUS$7 million as punishment for its violations of Australian consumer rights law. However, the ticketing site went back to court to request payment of that fine be put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

Legal reps for Viagogo pointed to the catastrophic effect the COVID shutdown has had on the wider ticketing industry. Providing some details about the firm’s current financial position, the lawyers added that Viagogo had had to reduce its workforce because of the COVID challenges, and having to pay the AUS$7 million fine now would result in further job losses.

The ACCC opposed the proposal that the payment of the fine be postponed. However, the judge overseeing the case accepted Viagogo’s arguments, noting that it’s hoped that the live sector will start to swing back into action later this year. According to the Australian Associated Press, she added: “I note that the appellant is not suggesting it cannot now pay, rather it is the impact of doing so now that is relied on”.

The postponement of the fine payment doesn’t affect the separate court order that restricted Viagogo from making certain misleading statements about its service.