Anti-touting legislation is unconstitutional, says reseller Viagogo

Tánaiste is promoting Bill that will ban the resale of tickets for more than face value

Viagogo’s website displays all prices at which tickets for an event are available, from the lowest to the highest. Photograph: C Flanigan/Getty

Anti-ticket-touting legislation backed by Government is unconstitutional as it attacks property rights, according to multinational reseller Viagogo.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is promoting a Bill that will ban the resale of tickets to gigs, sports or other events for more than their face value if the Oireachtas passes it into law.

However, Viagogo, a Swiss-based multinational that runs a website allowing people to resell tickets at whatever price they wish, argues that the legislation breaches basic property rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The company has submitted a legal opinion, written by senior counsel Michael Howard and barrister Patrick Fitzgerald, to politicians scrutinising the Bill. The lawyers argue that the proposed ban attacks contractual rights guaranteed by articles 40.3.2 and 43 of the Constitution.


The Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill 2020 aims to prevent individuals and organisations buying large numbers of tickets once they go on sale to resell them later at inflated prices.

Black market

Frankie Mulqueen, Viagogo's Irish-based global head of government affairs, pointed out on Thursday that if the Bill were to become law, reselling would simply shift to the black market.

He argued that the Bill, based on a four-year-old consultation paper, is now out of date, and fails to take changes such as the rising influence of dynamic pricing into account.

He noted that tickets for major events in the Republic are now sold at “20 or 30” different price points as the organisers release them for sale.

Mr Mulqueen added that his company supported efforts to halt wholesale automated ticket purchasing, which causes the problem that the Government is trying to tackle.

“Our day-to-day business is buying and selling tickets that people can’t use,” he explained.

The company’s systems validate the tickets, and Viagogo says it will refund buyers if there is a problem getting into the event.

Commission charges

Its website displays all prices at which tickets for an event are available, from the lowest to the highest. The company makes money by charging sellers and buyers a commission.

“We make it clear that it is a secondary marketplace,” Mr Mulqueen said. “We try to provide as much information as possible to consumers so they can make informed decisions.”

He also argued that someone who has bought a ticket owns it, has spent their money on it and should be allowed “do with it what you please”.

Mr Howard's and Mr Fitzgerald's legal opinion, submitted to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, says the proposed ban amounts to an unreasonable and irrational restriction of property rights.

*This article was updated as an earlier version stated Brian Fitzgerald was one of the authors of the legal opinion. This has been corrected. 

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas