Court dismisses Viagogo’s appeal on misleading representations and penalty

18 May 2022

The Full Federal Court today dismissed an appeal by Viagogo AG against earlier decisions by the Federal Court which had found that Viagogo had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of tickets to live music or sporting events.

In dismissing the appeal, the Full Court upheld the earlier court findings and the $7 million penalty imposed for the breaches of the Australian Consumer Law in proceedings brought by the ACCC. When imposing the $7 million penalty, Justice Burley had noted that Viagogo’s conduct was deliberate and that some of Viagogo’s misleading claims were made ‘on an industrial scale’.

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.

The Full Court upheld the finding made in 2019 that Viagogo had falsely represented that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events.

The Full Court also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6 per cent booking fee which applied to most tickets.

“Viagogo misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event. Consumers were drawn in by a headline price and were often unaware of the significant fees charged by Viagogo until very late in the booking process when they were already invested in attending the event,” Ms Carver said.  

The Full Federal Court stated that ‘had Viagogo made it clear that it was operating a ticket resale site, then there would have been no misapprehension by consumers’.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” Ms Carver said.

The Court also upheld previous orders made against Viagogo in relation to a compliance program, publication orders, and an injunction.

For further information refer to Consumer tips for buying tickets online.

Background

Viagogo AG is an online ticket resell platform with headquarters in Switzerland.

The ACCC took action against Viagogo in August 2017, and in April 2019 the court found Viagogo had misled consumers and ordered Viagogo to pay a $7 million penalty in October 2020.

The ACCC enforces the Australian Consumer Law which applies to tickets as well as other consumer goods and services. In recent years various state and territory governments have also introduced specific legislation regulating the reselling of tickets, such as maximum price caps.

The ACCC published guides for consumers on how to purchase event tickets with confidence at Buying tickets online.

Consumers with queries about their state or territory’s ticket reselling laws should contact their state or territory’s fair trading or consumer affairs agency.

Notes for editors

The penalties relate to conduct covered by the previous Australian Consumer Law (ACL) penalty regime, which specified a maximum penalty of $1.1 million per contravention. Since then, legislative amendments have come into effect, and the maximum penalty for each contravention of certain ACL provisions is now the higher of $10 million, three times the profit or benefit obtained or, if this cannot be determined, 10 per cent of the company’s annual Australian sales turnover.

Release number: 
58/22
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