Ticket touts must be tackled, says competition authority – but does the Government have the stomach for the fight which could follow?

The Competition and Markets Authority in the UK have made an intervention this week on the subject of ticket touting. The gist of it? They think existing protections aren’t anywhere near strong enough and think more regulation is required. But is the government listening?

The experience from across the Irish Sea on this subject makes for somewhat sobering reading. A private members bills was brought to the Dáil Éireann – the lower house of Ireland’s parliament – in 2017, with little success. Infact, the TD who first proposed the changes isn’t even in parliament anymore – he now works for a consultancy firm.

This remained the case until earlier in the year, when the government decided to get behind it. When the initial text of the bill emerged, Viagogo consulted their solicitors and called the proposed ban “unconstitutional”. The law was eventually passed last month and came into force on July 31st.

Could the British government soon find itself in a similar situation? If they back this proposal, it’s entirely possible. The UK is a larger country and a ban here would probably soon find the government and the likes of Viagogo with judges having to interpret the laws that politicians have passed.

And British judges work in something of a vacuum, meaning the results of such cases aren’t certain. For example, Ireland has a written constitution that anyone can read – and if the government wants to change anything in it, they must hold a referendum on the topic first. No such constitution exists in the UK, so using a constitutional angle in a British court is unlikely to sway any judge.

Can you hear thar? That sound is lawyers getting excited about the prospect of fat pay cheques hitting their bank accounts as this government inevitably messes up in trying to change the law…