Commission urges consumer caution following Viagogo decision
20 February 2019
The Commerce Commission is urging event ticket buyers to take particular care, following the High Court’s decision to dismiss an application for an interim injunction against online ticket seller Viagogo.
The Commission sought an interim injunction to prohibit website representations by Viagogo which the Commission alleges are misleading. 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.
There was no finding made on the substantive merits of the Commission’s case, which will be heard at a later hearing.
Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry said “We knew this was not an easy course but we had hoped to get interim orders to protect New Zealand consumers until we could have the Court hear our substantive case against Viagogo. Our focus remains on preparing for the main hearing against Viagogo.”
“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.”
A date for the substantive hearing for the Commission’s case against Viagogo has yet to be set by the Court.
As the matter remains before the Court, the Commission will make no further comment at this time.
Please note, the Commission’s application for an interim injunction did not seek to ‘shut down’ Viagogo or to prevent it trading in New Zealand, as has been widely misreported. The interim injunction sought only to prohibit Viagogo from making claims on its website which the Commission alleges are misleading about the:
• scarcity of tickets
• price of tickets
• guaranteed validity of tickets
In addition, the Commission’s substantive case also seeks:
• a declaration that Viagogo breached the Fair Trading Act by claiming to be an “official” ticket seller, and orders that it take out advertising to correct that claim
• a declaration that a particular clause of Viagogo’s terms and conditions is an unfair contract term. The clause gives Viagogo the right to bring proceedings against consumers either in Switzerland or New Zealand at Viagogo’s discretion, but requires that New Zealand consumers bring proceedings against Viagogo in Switzerland under Swiss law
The Commission’s application for an interim injunction, submissions in support of the interim injunction, and the substantive Statement of Claim can all be read in the documents tab of the Viagogo entry on the Commission’s case register.