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Swiss court rules in favour of Viagogo

Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court has handed Viagogo a win after dismissing a lawsuit against the secondary ticketing firm for alleged unfair competition.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), which is the federal government’s centre of excellence for all core issues relating to economic and labour market policy, sued the Geneva-based company for reportedly selling invalid tickets to unwitting customers. The lawsuit has been in motion since autumn 2017.

However, the Court has ruled that average customers can see that Viagogo brokers tickets and is not the ticket seller itself.

It adds that the company “does not state that it is a first-time seller and does not otherwise provide false information about itself and its business model.”

A Viagogo spokesperson said: “Viagogo is very satisfied with the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s decision in its favour. While we regret these issues required much time spent on both sides, we strongly believe the Court’s conclusion highlights Viagogo’s comprehensive work over the last several years to address regulator concerns.

“Viagogo remains hopeful that it can now have a strong and positive relationship with SECO to continue to protect Swiss consumers moving forward.”

Viagogo has been under scrutiny for years across several countries, with allegations ranging from usury to deception and the illegal resale of tickets.

Sara Stalder, managing director of the Foundation for Consumer Protection, which funds programmes designed to educate both users and enterprises regarding issues relating to protection of rights and personal information, noted the international significance of the decision. She said: “It covers those providers who are involved in the ticket resale market in a questionable and non-transparent manner.”

In October, Viagogo was ordered to pay A$7m (£3.9m/€4.3m/$5m) for breaching the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations when reselling tickets to live events. In legal action brought forward by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Federal Court found the controversial ticketing firm deceived consumers by claiming it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets and that certain tickets were scarce.

Similarly, the New Zealand Commerce Commission initiated proceedings against Viagogo in August 2018 and joined a growing group of international enforcement agencies in bringing similar cases against the provider. The company also faces court or enforcement action in Germany, France, Spain, and the UK. It has been fined in Italy and sued by FIFA, football’s global governing body.