Associate tenant Jonathan Sandiford QC secures win in Court of Appeal

January 31, 2022

Jonathan Sandiford QC successfully resists appeals by ticket touts, Peter Hunter and David Smith, against their convictions for offences of fraudulent trading under Section 993 of the Companies Act 2006.

The Prosecution case was that Hunter and Smith used multiple names and addresses to enable them to purchase tickets in breach of ticket limits and other terms and conditions intended to protect consumers from ticket touts.

Consumers were also deceived into buying what they believed to be valid tickets, when in fact those ticket were at risk of cancellation, refusal of entry or simply non-existent (so called spec selling).

Following a 3 month trial at Leeds Crown Court, Hunter was sentenced to imprisonment for 4 years and Smith was sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years and 6 months. Both were disqualified from acting as directors under Section 1 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act.

The Court of Appeal upheld all key decisions of law made by the Judge at trial including that:

  • A ticket was not a mere good that could be bought and sold but a contractual licence that was subject to the terms and conditions on which it was issued.
  • Fraudulent trading was a broad offence and the meaning of ‘any fraudulent purpose’ was not to be constrained by the limits placed on the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud.
  • In particular, the offence could be convicted without any person being deceived or suffering loss
  • Restrictions imposed by event organisers to deter or prevent ticket touting were fair and enforceable under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
  • The protection of consumers from the detriment caused by ticket touts rendered such terms and conditions, fair, reasonable and proportionate.

The Court concluded that the Judge had correctly decided the many legal issues that had arisen and that the convictions were safe.

The prosecution was led by Jonathan Sandiford QC leading Danielle Graham on behalf of Trading Standards.

Read full judgment here: Judiciary