Restricting the fans’ right to a refund in the event of cancellation of a match due to the closure of the stadium - is an example of the challenged provisions of the regulations of football events. UOKiK examines the procedures of clubs and sports organizations
The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) initiated proceedings against the football club Legia Warszawa in connection with the use of abusive clauses in the regulations. In addition, there was an action brought to the court for recognition as prohibited the provisions applied by the Union European Football Associations - UEFA.
Proceedings against a football club Legia Warszawa were initiated following the information received from the fans. Doubts of the President of UOKiK were raised by the provisions in the regulations, e.g. liability exclusion in the event of cancellation of a club event. On this basis, the club does not pay back the fans holding unused tickets the money for the event in case of closing the stadium due to e.g. a decision of the administrative bodies. Moreover, according to another condition of the questioned regulations, the club also excludes its liability in case of change of the dates of matches and other events. According to the questioned provisions, the club may change, at its own discretion, the dates of the events held at their stadium, without incurring any liability on this account.
Investigation conducted since February will show whether the football club in their regulations applied the provisions included in the Register of Prohibited Clauses. In the case of practices infringing collective consumer interests, the President of UOKiK may order the club to cease their application and impose a fine of up to 10 percent revenue.
An application for recognition as abusive of twenty-five provisions applied by UEFA was submitted with the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection. Doubts of the President of UOKiK were raised by provisions contained in the terms and conditions of sale of tickets for Euro 2012.
The reservations of the President of UOKiK also refer to e.g. excluding of the responsibility for delays in delivery of tickets. In the opinion of UOKiK, it is not allowed to arbitrarily exclude liability in all cases that have occurred, because the delay may also be due to circumstances for which UEFA bears the responsibility. Concern arises about the provision, which does not provide for issuing a duplicate bearer’s ticket if it is stolen or lost by the fan. In accordance with the rules of the organizer, all tickets are non-transferrable, and therefore according to the Authority it is contrary to social norms and grossly violating the interests of the consumer to limit the participation of spectators in an event, who could confirm the purchase.
UOKiK also objected to a provision under which unforeseen circumstances may alter the terms of the contract - that is, the date, time, location of the matches. According to the Office, by failing to specify the cases of unforeseen circumstances, the organizer accepts their arbitrary interpretation, at the same time recognizing its own right to unilaterally amend the contract, even to the detriment of the consumer. Pursuant to the law, the amendments may be made only due to important, clearly defined reasons.
The Office also had reservations concerning the provisions obliging the consumer to change the purchased place in the stadium, if requested to do so, without giving any reason. In the opinion of UOKiK, the place is one of the most essential conditions of the contract. The challenged provision of the regulations authorizes the organizer to unilaterally change the contract without providing the reason of the same, what is more, without providing the fan with a possible claim for damages.
According to the Authority, a clause providing that the dispute between the consumer and the UEFA will be settled before a court in Switzerland is also a prohibited clause. According to UOKiK, the court should be competent for the place of residence of the consumer, not the address of the undertaking.
Provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure authorize the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection to apply to the court requesting the recognition of standard contracts provisions as illegal. Clauses found by the court to be illegal shall be entered in the register kept by the President of UOKiK. From this point, their use in legal transactions with consumers shall be prohibited. Lawsuit against UEFA was submitted to court by the President of UOKiK in August last year.
Each consumer can receive help in resolving the dispute with the undertaking, by contacting the consumer ombudsman. Legal advice is also provided under the number 800 007 707 by Consumer Federation or its branch offices. During Euro 2012, the legal services infoline will also be available in English.