Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman

Auctioneer. - An auctioneer, employed by a person to sell his property, is primarily the owner's agent only, and he remains his exclusive agent to the moment when he accepts the purchaser's bid and knocks down the property to him. On accepting the bid the auctioneer is deemed to be the agent of the purchaser also, so far as is needful to complete the sale; he may therefore bind the purchaser by entering his name to the sale and by [17]signing the memorandum thereof. His signing is sufficient to satisfy the Statute of Frauds in any state conferring on an agent authority to make and contract for the sale of real and personal property without requiring his authority to be in writing. His agency may begin before the time of the sale and continue after it. Again, the entry of the purchaser's name must be made by the auctioneer or his clerk immediately on the acceptance of the bid and the striking down of the property at the place of sale. It cannot be made afterward. The auctioneer at the sale is the agent of the purchaser who by the act of bidding calls on him or his clerk to put down his name as the purchaser. In such case there is little danger of fraud. If the auctioneer could afterward do this he might change the name, substitute another, and so perpetrate a fraud.

A sale by auction is complete by the Sales Act when the auctioneer announces its completion by the fall of the hammer, or in other customary manner. Until such announcement is made, any bidder may retract his bid; and the auctioneer may withdraw the goods from sale unless the auction has been announced to be without reserve.

Authority may be conferred on an auctioneer in the same manner as on any other agent for the sale of similar property, verbally or in writing. Even to make a contract for the sale of real estate, oral authority to the auctioneer is sufficient, in the absence of a statute to the contrary.

Authority to sell property does not of itself imply authority to sell it at auction, and the purchaser therefore who has notice of the agent's authority or knowledge sufficient to put him on inquiry, acquires no title to the property thus purchased. If goods [18]are sent to an auction room to sell, this is deemed sufficient evidence of authority to sell them in that manner and to protect whoever buys them.

As an auctioneer is ordinarily a special agent, the purchaser is supposed to know the terms and conditions imposed by the seller on the agent. The seller or owner therefore is not bound by any terms stated by the auctioneer differing from those given to him. If the owner has imposed no terms on him, then he has the implied authority usually existing in such cases.

An auctioneer has authority to accept the bid most favorable to the seller when the sale is made without reserve and to strike down the property to the purchaser. He cannot therefore consistently with his duty to his principal refuse to accept bids, unless the bidder is irresponsible or refuses to comply with the terms of the sale. He is justified in rejecting the bids of insane persons, minors, drunken persons, trustees of the property, and perhaps in some cases of married women.

An auctioneer cannot transfer his duty to another. This rule does not prevent him from employing others to do incidental things connected with the keeping and the moving of the property. He cannot sell on credit contrary to his instructions or custom; nor would he be secure in following custom if instructed to do otherwise. After the bid has been accepted the bidder has no authority to withdraw it without the owner's consent, nor can he be permitted to do so by the auctioneer. Nor can he sell at private sale if his instruction is to sell publicly, nor can he justify himself even if he acted in good faith and sold the property for more than the minimum price fixed by the owners. Nor can he sell the property to himself, nor authorize any other person to bid and purchase for him either directly or indirectly. It is impossible with good faith to combine the inconsistent capacities of seller and buyer, crier and bidder, in one and the same transaction.

He has no authority to warrant the quality of property sold except custom or authority is expressly given to him. Nor is he an insurer of the safety of the goods entrusted to him for sale; he must however use ordinary and reasonable care in keeping them. Lastly, an auctioneer should disclose his principal and contract in his name. If one bought property therefore supposing it belonged to A, when in fact it belonged to B, through any manipulation of the auctioneer, the bidder would not be bound.


Do It Yourself Legal Forms
Law for the Laymen - Auctioneer
Page Updated 7:56 AM Thursday 12/04/2014