As France prepares to host the Rugby World Cup this year, as well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, the integrated group of lawyers and notaries De Gaulle Fleurance unveils the figures for this practice, which is developing exponentially, and the litigation that it involves.
- +250 %. This is the evolution of the number of court decisions concerning the illegal resale of tickets on the secondary market in the sports sector between the period 2008-2010 and the period 2020-2022.
- 87%. This is the success rate of proceedings initiated by rights holders, organisers of sports events, in relation to the illegal resale of tickets.
- 1 635 000 EUR. This is the total amount of damages awarded to rights holders by the courts which, over the period 2017-2019, had to deal with ticketing disputes relating in particular to the EURO 2016 in France.
While more than three out of four French people now buy their tickets online , the growing importance of online sales platforms has promoted the development of the illicit sale of second-hand tickets. Of the twelve platforms inspected by the DGCCRF in 2019, ten were deficient and two official reports were issued. Although it is difficult to measure in terms of volume, some estimate that illicit sales now account for up to one in four tickets . Victims of this practice: the audience, who pay up to 3 to 4 times more for their – sometimes invalid – ticket, but also the organisers of sporting events (national and international sporting federations) or cultural events, who suffer damage to their image and their policy, which is often part of a public service mission, given the speculation generated by these illicit resales.
De Gaulle Fleurance analysed more than 32 court decisions between 2008 and 2022 relating to the illegal resale of tickets in the sports sector.
A GROWING LITIGATION CASE
The illicit resale of tickets constitutes a breach sanctioned on the basis of Article L. 333-1 of the French Sports Code, according to which “Sports federations (…) shall own the right to exploit the sports events or competitions they organise”. The penalty for this practice was tightened by the law of 12 March 2012, which made the habitual resale of tickets without the organiser’s authorisation an infringement punishable under Article L. 313-6-2 of the Criminal Code.
Litigation has increased significantly, with the number of decisions increasing by a factor of 2.5 between 2008-2010 (4) and 2020-2022 (10). “The increase is particularly noticeable since 2016 and the European Football Championship held in Paris”, observe Smaïn Guennad, Serge Lederman and Jean-François Vilotte, lawyers at De Gaulle Fleurance.
Evolution of the number of decisions between 2008 and 2022
A SUCCESS RATE OF ALMOST 90%.
“National and international sports federations, which are particularly affected by this growth in illicit resale, are increasingly vigilant and no longer hesitate to assert their rights in court”, notice Smaïn Guennad, Serge Lederman and Jean-François Vilotte. “And they are right, because the success rate of their legal claims reached almost 90%”.
Applicants’ success (87%) vs failures (13%)
INCREASING DAMAGE AWARDS
Another finding is that the damages paid out literally jumped between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019, from €130,000 to €1,635,000 in total, i.e. almost 13 times more, before falling in the following years. And behind this average, there are very large discrepancies: damages can reach more than 800,000 euros, when it comes to compensating the damage suffered by an organiser of major events such as UEFA.
Evolution of the amount of damages awarded between 2008 and 2022
“In view of the organisation of two major sporting events in France, the trend should increase significantly”, forecast Smaïn Guennad, Serge Lederman and Jean-François Vilotte. “Especially since the case law is getting tougher: the judge recently held liable a resale platform which, in an attempt to circumvent French law, had put in place a geo-blocking measure, preventing French Internet users from purchasing tickets for a French event.”