Selling sports tickets on ebay

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JamesSA | 10:20 Thu 19th Mar 2009 | Civil
22 Answers
I have received a letter from solicitors acting for a major
sports governing body telling me that they have discovered that I have sold tickets to their sporting events on ebay and as this contravenes their "rules" they are demanding that I :-

1. Tell them where I got the tickets from

2. Send them the profit that I made from the sale

3. Undertake not to sell tickets in future

If I fail to to these they are threatening me with court

As I understand it, it is NOT illegal to resell sports tickets
(except football), although the governing bodies of other sports have been trying unsuccessfully to get the law changed for years.

Also, I understand that the validity of the "No transfer of tickets" rules printed on the tickets have been ruled as unacceptable by the EU as they would constitute a "restrictive contract". I can think of no other situation where, after I had legally purchased something,
I was not allowed to resell that "something" at whatever price I liked.

Does anyone know what is likely to happen if I do not respond? Will the sports body really take legal action against an individual who resold tickets? What sort of court would this take place in (small claims?) and what would the alleged offence be? What penalties would
I face if I could not convince the court that this is a restrictive practice? I am very loath to say where I got the tickets from as this would be betraying a totally innocent third party.

Thanks in advance


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Unless they are football tickets (where a specific offence exists under the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act) I cannot see that any criminal laws have been contravened and so this would be a civil matter, probably heard in the County Court. The company would have to take action for breach of contract, implying that in buying the tickets you entered into a contract with them and so were bound by their conditions (which probably include a �no resale� clause). They would have to go on to demonstrate that they had incurred losses as a result of your action and to quantify those losses.

However, what you have stated about the legality of selling tickets is, as far as I can recall, quite correct. I believe the conditions imposed by event organisers have been ruled unfair and so unenforceable. A couple of years ago there was a flurry of government activity and the views of all sides were examined. This actually resulted in nothing being done as far as I can recall.

It is interesting that the primary sellers of these commodities seek to control their resale, but are not against resale per se. They are quite happy for their approved �partners� to sell their wares, sometimes at a hefty mark up, but do not want to see Joe Public making a penny or two by doing likewise. Wimbledon Tennis, for example, imposes stringent conditions on members of the public who have been fortunate enough to secure tickets via their annual ballot, buy �Debenture Holders� who but seats for each day of the tournament for ten or fifteen years in advance, face no such restriction. They, along with many other event organisers, are also quite happy to sell tickets to corporate hospitality providers who, of course, simply sell them on.

I suggest you reply to the solicitors asking them on what basis they intend to take action against you.
Question Author
Thanks, New Judge!

I am quite prepared to go to court to argue my case that the wording on the tickets contravenes article 81 (ex 85) of the EC treaty, and is therefore null and void. Whether I would succeed or not I cannot say!

I have two major concerns:

Firstly, I really do not want to name from where I (legally) got the tickets, as this third party is totally innocent and I don't want to "drop anyone in it". Could a court force me to reveal from where I purchased the ticket?

Secondly, if I lost the case, would I be liable to the legal costs of the opposition?

Thanks in advance

I really cant comment on the legal side, but just a warning. I had a similar occurence, but was contacted directly by someone from the organisation not a solicitor. They said that unless i withdrew the tickets, they would nullify them so that whoever turned up on the day would be refused entry.

Which made it very awkward for me to continue with the sale in good conscience as i would have hated for the buyer to be turned away and then be held responsible for a wasted trip and accussed of selling dodgy tickets.

They may also try this tactic on you if call their legal bluff. ..
-- answer removed --
James - unauthorised reselling of tickets is a criminal offence in the context of tickets for football matches (to prevent crowd trouble) and for Olympic events, under Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994.

No other type of secondary sale is (as yet) unlawful. If you're talking about rugby or concert tickets then definitely not.

It sounds like someone is "fishing" and trying to scare you.

How can they nullify a ticket? Did you put the saet and row number up on the sale notice?
Question Author
Cassa333 - No they can't nullify the ticket. They have given me until next week to provide the info, at which time the event will have completed. I can't provide the info anyway as I sent off the tickets and have no records as to the row number etc. I of course did not release the row/seat number in the auction details.

I think they want the row/seat details so they can trace the original purchaser which is something I want to avoid since I don't want to involove a completely innocent third party.
Question Author
uno.who - Their solicitors have never intimated that this is a criminal case (the tickets were *not* football tickets); they are accusing me of breaching their client's ticket terms and conditions. They inform me that their client would be "entitled to an injunction restraining you from infringing its rights in the manner described above [onward sale of the tickets], as well as damages to compensate it for the losses flowing from such infringement and/or an account of the profits that you have made by means of such an infringement".

I don't believe they have made any loss since they received the price for the tickets that they themselves set and must therefore consider reasonable.

I am quite prepared to go to court and state my side of the case in public but I don't want to be landed with a huge legal bill in the event that I lose!
They say:

"1. Tell them where I got the tickets from

2. Send them the profit that I made from the sale "

So, they don't know where you obtained the ticket. So they are trying to find out from you. They have no legal way to make you answer that question.

On what basis are they asking you to surrender your profit. The people who issued the ticket in the first place got all they were entitled to for it from whoever they sold it to. They are not entitled to anything more.
And, I would want to know how these solicitors obtained your name and address. They should not have been able to get that information from ebay without a valid legal order otherwise there would be an infringement of the Data Protection Act.

Maybe they "bought" something else from you on ebay - or maybe they are the people who bought the ticket?

They would get that information as a matter of course if they had done that.
may i ask what the tickets are for

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Question Author
Rollo 1 - I hope you are right that they have no way to make me divulge the information as to where I obtained the tickets! Is it possible for a court to order me to give the info?

I quite agree about the profit. If they wanted more for the tickets, why didn't they charge more in the first place?

Rollo 2 - They say they got the info from eBay via the VeRO program because I unknowingly used a picture that they claim is their intellectual property, The listing was pulled so I relisted it without a picture. The funny thing is that although the tickets and logo related to Rugby Union, eBay tell me that they had received notice from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club!!! Coincidentally the email address they gave me if I wished to query the ruling was to the same firm of solicitors that are now hassling me! Either the AELT&CC and the RFU are one and the same body, or the solicitors have sent a "form letter" and forgot to change the name of the complaining body!
If, and I emphasise the IF, they managed to get a court order then you would have to divulge the information - of face a contempt of court ruling.

I think they are just trying to put the "frighteners" on you.

However, if there was a picture of the ticket, with the seat details on it, and they got those details before ebay removed the first listing, whoever tries to use it may well be refused admission.
My q was for kiera000 about nullifing the tickets.

Every now and then this sort of thing comes up when tickets are sold at absolutly astronomical sums by touts. Basicly is the 'not for re-sale' clause water tight and if not why not.

What if I bought the ticket and became ill and couldn't go? What about the companies that buy a batch and put on a trip with coach and accomodation?

Perhaps they could have named tickets but even that would be fraught with difficulties.

Personally I think if there are people stupid enough to pay idiot amounts for re-sale tickets then that is their look out and the event people sold it at a price they were happy with so shouldn't complain really.
I totally agree with you Cassa 333.

Once you own something you should be able to sell it to somebody else. To try to stop that happening is a restraint of trade.

James .... The fact that they are using the terms stating that their client "could get an injunction" means that they don't have one and would have to apply for one. Under UK law it's extremely unlikely that they'd get one anyway :-)

They won't have your ticket numbers and, unless you tell them, they can;t find out.

Their communication is total bullsh!t and should be ignored.
I didnt post the row or seat in my listing, just which stand and section. Somehow they worked out from that who i was!

The OP probably isnt monitoring this thread any more but in case they are.....

What was the outcome of this? I received the same letter today after selling a ticket on ebay. I dont think Ive done anything wrong but Im concerned because the letter is very threatening.
Hi, I've received exactly the same kind of letter today - I don't know what to do ie whether to respond & return my profits? Same problem re: seats & tickets sold are unknown to me now i did not keep a record! So Any advice would be really appreciated! Many thanks.
Hi, I've received exactly the same kind of letter today - I don't know what to do ie whether to respond & return my profits? Same problem re: seats & tickets sold are unknown to me now i did not keep a record! I see there may have been new rulings on this recently so any advice would be really appreciated! Many thanks.

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