UK based Viagogo ordered to turn over names of rugby play ticket resellers

Viagogo is UK’s biggest secondary ticket website where fans re-sell their tickets to other fans.  Buying a ticket to a live event and re-selling it online for more than its face value is not illegal. However, it leaves some genuine fans paying inflated prices for high demand events as the sellers get to set the prices. The secondary ticket market is estimated to be worth £800 million a year.

This has infuriated some organisers and recently in the case of The Rugby Football Union v Viagogo Ltd [2011] EWHC 764 (QB) the Rugby Football Union (RFU) took a unique approach in their case against Viagogo where they convinced the Judge that those who bought tickets via Viagogo for above face value to be trespassers, because those fans allegedly violated certain rules that disallow the resale of tickets above face value. The RFU asked Viagogo to hand over the names of the sellers who sold on the tickets. Viagogo argued against that and refused to supply these details as it has a strict policy for keeping sellers’ identities private.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of the High Court ordering Viagogo to turn over the names and personal information of resellers of RFU tickets who sold them for a premium above face value as the league tries to control resale to help keep prices affordable.

Having balanced the conflicting arguments from both sides the Court confirmed that the RFU was entitled to know who was infringing its contract terms and ruled that the High Court was right to grant the RFU a “Norwich Pharmacal Order” against Viagogo to reveal the data.

RFU spokesperson Sophie Goldschmidt said in a statement that “placing tickets for sale on secondary ticketing sites is in direct contravention of the RFU’s ticketing terms and conditions, and if the seller can be identified, they face tough sanctions including possible Court action”.  The RFU’s message is clear. They will do everything to ensure that tickets go to genuine fans.