Your Legal Obligations as an Event Organiser Under Australian Consumer Law
Australia Consumer Law is a set of obligations for businesses engaging in trade or commerce, which protects the rights of consumers. To help you remain within the guidelines, here are some considerations to take in the organisation of your event.
- Ensure you secure appropriate approval/permits from the venue, prior to selling tickets.
- Clearly list the contact details of the organiser, so that consumers can communicate directly if needed.
- Regularly meet with all of those assisting with the planning and organisation of the event, to make sure it is all going sufficiently and successfully
- Provide a thorough brief to food and drink vendors to ensure numbers will be catered for adequately, at appropriate times.
- Ensure the quality and quantity of facilities on site, particularly with regards to the number of attendees.
- Ensure that any promised merchandising stock will arrive in a timely manner and in adequate quantities to supply all consumers.
- Ensure there are adequate staffing levels to manage crowds on the day.
- Develop a plan of action for extreme weather events.
- Consider the conditions under which you would provide a refund and ensure your ticketing agent is part of that process, in case of significant problems prior to or during the event.
- Thoroughly brief all event staff working during the event to ensure they are all aligned regarding event management procedures and contingency planning.
- Ensure event staff can communicate effectively with each other as well as event managers and local authorities during the event.
Consumer guarantees and refunds
- Pop-up events involve supplying consumers with a service (the experience). Under the ACL, suppliers automatically provide guarantees on the goods and services they provide to consumers.
- A supplier guarantees that services are provided:
- With due care and skill
- Which are fit for any specified purpose
- Within a reasonable time (when no time is specified).
- In the case of any goods provided, a supplier guarantees (among other things) that:
- Goods are of an acceptable quality
- Goods will match any description provided
- Events involving supplying consumers with a service (the experience) means that suppliers automatically provide guarantees on the goods and services they provide to consumers, according to Australian Consumer Law.
- If the good or service fails to meet a consumer guarantee, a consumer has rights against the supplier, who must provide a remedy promptly. In the case of major failures, ie cancellation (where a consumer would not have purchased the good or service had they known the extent), the remedy is normally a refund. If you have to reschedule your event and the ticket purchaser is unable to attend the new event date, they are entitled to a refund, including booking fees.
- Consumers may be entitled to a full or partial refund if the service is not provided to the extent of the promise.
- The ACL prohibits the use of unfair contract terms, including all Terms and Conditions which consumers must agree to when purchasing tickets. This includes terms which limit the liability of the organiser in providing refunds or other remedies. You can state that refunds will not be given for change of mind purchasers.
- Event organisers are encouraged to proactively provide consumers with as much information as they can about the circumstances when they would be entitled to refunds. For example, Terms and Conditions could clearly advise consumers they are entitled to a refund if an event is cancelled or if the headline act is no longer attending, or in the event of a postponement of an event that organisers would offer consumers tickets to the alternate date or the consumer can choose a refund.
- It is misleading for event organisers to accept payment for event tickets (or allow their ticketing agent to accept payments) if they:
- do not intend to put on the event,
- intend to put on an event different to the event advertised, or
- know (or should have known) or were reckless to the fact that you would not be able to put on the event.
- If you do accept payment in the above circumstances, you may be committing an offence.
- The law is not intended to punish businesses that genuinely try to meet supply agreements, however, event organisers should communicate any alterations to an event as soon as possible and as widely as possible and offer appropriate remedies in response to failures of any consumer guarantees so consumers can make informed decisions.
- Ultimately, event organisers are encouraged to review their practices to ensure they are operating with the ACL, and make sure to remedy situations with a ticket purchaser if they are not satisfied.
*This information is provided as a guide only. For more detailed information regarding the requirements of both event organisers and ticketing agencies, please visit the ACCS website, or your local consumer affairs regulator.