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Stringent Quebec ticket resale law goes into effect
Quebec's much discussed "Bill 25" officially went into effect Thursday, June 7, changing the face of ticket resale within the Canadian province.
First introduced into committee on June 7, 2011, the bill quickly made its way through the Assembly and was voted into law on October 20, 2011. Under the terms of the new law, ticket brokers will be barred from reselling tickets at prices above face value without first obtaining the permission of the ticket's original vendor.
Additionally, brokers will be required to inform consumers that the tickets are being resold, provide the name of the ticket's original vendor and inform customers of the ticket's original face value price. Those found to be in violation of the new law will be subject to fines of $1,000-$2,000 for a first offense and as much as $200,000 for repeated violations. It is also important to note that the new law only applies to merchants engaged in the business of ticket resale, meaning it likely will not be enforced against individuals seeking to sell tickets without the aid of online ticket resale sites or ticket brokers.
At the bill's passage, Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier, who was Bill 25's sponsor, released a statement explaining that the new law would serve to better protect consumers. "This bill will allow consumers to buy concert tickets with confidence, that is to say, knowing the initial price of the tickets and knowing that these tickets are still available at the ticket [box office]," stated Fournier.
Those in support of the law, which includes the Montreal Canadians and multiple event venues throughout the province, state that brokers account for a large percentage of initial ticket purchases, which bars normal consumers from gaining tickets to highly sought after events. "More and more companies were buying large quantities of tickets without prior approval from vendors and reselling the tickets at higher prices, often without informing consumers that that it was a resale," Fournier said in a statement.
The Canadian Ticket Brokers Association have opposed Bill 25 since it was first introduced, and local Quebec ticket brokers have spoken out against its implementation. It is widely believed the impetus for the bill was a desire to curb the online resale of tickets by Quebec-based sites billets.ca and QualityPlusTickets.com.
However, while the law may now be in effect, whether or not it will be enforceable is an entirely different hurdle. Various Canadian Provinces have had or currently have similar laws in effect, but enforcement of them has proven to be difficult. Alberta was forced to rescind its law prohibiting ticket resale in 2009 when it determined that it could not effectively be enforced.
Now that the bill has become a law, enforcement of it will be the responsibility of Quebec's Consumer Protection Office — something that attorney Julius Grey does not believe to be an easy task. Grey, who represents an online ticket resale company affected by the law, stated following the announcement of Bill 25 that the impending law would truly do very little to curb ticket resale.
Rather, it would harm the local businesses and allow for international websites and brokers to continue the practice of ticket resale, just not from within Quebec's borders. "We have no control over those (international) sites, we can't collect taxes, we can't guarantee the authenticity of the tickets, we cannot guarantee reimbursement in case of cancellation," Grey stated.
Only time will tell whether Quebec's new ticket resale ban will protect consumers, or if it will be responsible for driving ticket brokers out the area.