New Zealand’s consumer affairs regulator has ceased its application for an interim injunction against Viagogo after the secondary ticketing retailer made changes to its website.
The Commerce Commission said it will no longer seek a court ruling to stop Viagogo from using representations it claims are misleading.
While the body’s substantive legal action against Viagogo continues, the Commerce Commission said Viagogo has now undertaken to take reasonable steps to ensure that the phrases “All tickets 100% guaranteed!” or “100% guaranteed” will not appear in Google search results. The interim hearing concerning the claims set for today (Friday) in the High Court at Auckland has therefore been cancelled.
The Commerce Commission also welcomed Switzerland-based Viagogo’s decision to submit to the jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts on matters relating to law and regulation in New Zealand.
“The changes Viagogo has made to its website have largely addressed the interim injunction application filed by the Commission alleging that Viagogo was misrepresenting the price and availability of tickets, and the ‘guarantees’ attached to tickets,” said Mary-Anne Borrowdale, the Commission’s general counsel.
“Importantly, Viagogo has given undertakings to the court that it will not undo those changes or make new, similar representations. We consider that these changes and undertakings achieve what we sought in our interim injunction application and mean we can avoid the time and cost of another hearing and advance our preparations towards the full case hearing.”
The Commerce Commission began civil proceedings against Viagogo in August 2018. It accused Viagogo of breaching New Zealand’s Fair Trading Act by claiming, among other things, to be an ‘official’ seller when it was not and that tickets were limited or about to sell out.
The Commission sought declarations that Viagogo has breached the Act, an injunction restraining it from further breaches and corrective advertising orders.
The High Court rejected the Commission’s application for an interim injunction last February, ruling that the ticketing site had not been formally served notice. Aaron Lloyd, the lawyer representing Viagogo, told the court that it had no jurisdiction over the company, which is based in Switzerland, does business online, and has no New Zealand office.
While Viagogo celebrated, the Commission won an appeal later in 2019.
Speaking after today’s developments, Borrowdale said: “Until now Viagogo has said it is not answerable to the courts here, which has led to considerable expense and delay for the Commission. We think a company that sells New Zealand event tickets to New Zealand consumers should fall under New Zealand law, and we are pleased that Viagogo now accepts that too.
“Viagogo’s changes and undertakings do not mean that our substantive case has been resolved. The main case continues and we will continue to move towards a full hearing on the matters we first raised in August 2018.
“We still 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 or organiser’s website to find out who is the official ticket seller.”