CJEU rules on cancellation rights for online purchase of tickets for cultural or sporting events

April 8, 2022

The Court of Justice has ruled in the case of Case C-96/21 CTS Eventim.

Due to the restrictions adopted by the German authorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a concert that was due to take place in March 2020 had to be cancelled. A consumer who had purchased tickets for that concert online from the provider of ticket agency services CTS Eventim was not satisfied with the voucher that CTS Eventim subsequently sent her, which had been issued by the concert organiser and corresponded to the purchase price, but requested CTS Eventim to reimburse her for the voucher as well as ancillary costs.

The District Court, Bremen (Germany), hearing an action brought by the consumer, asked if the consumer could withdraw from the contract concluded with CTS Eventim under the Consumer Rights Directive. 

Under the CRD, a consumer who concludes a distance contract with a trader generally has, for a certain period, a right to withdraw from the contract without giving any reason. However, the CRD excludes the cancellation right for the provision of services related to leisure activities if the contract provides for a specific date of performance. 

By that exclusion, the CRD aims to protect the organisers of leisure activities such as cultural or sporting events against the risk associated with the setting aside of certain available places which they may find difficult to allocate if the right of withdrawal were exercised.

As CTS Eventim was not itself the organiser of the concert in question, but sold the tickets in its name, albeit on behalf of the organiser, the German court asked if that exception applies in such a case. 

The Court said that it does, provided that the economic risk linked to the exercise of that right of withdrawal would fall on the organiser of the leisure activities concerned.