State auctioneer boards’ liability

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auctioneerboardThey are called, “boards” and/or sometimes, “commissions.”

They are typically made up of auctioneers with some sort of minimum years experience as such.

These boards (or commissions) typically govern auction activity in states which license auctioneers.

Such governance can be limited to just an advisory role for the state regulatory agency. Or, boards can sometimes have vastly more power including overseeing suspension, revocation, fines, mandatory continuing education, etc. for auctioneers violating the law.

We wrote more about auctioneer boards [commissions] here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/a-state-auctioneers-commission/

Given that a board or commission could possibly suspend a license of a fellow auctioneer, or otherwise regulate the auction industry in their state — the question could be asked if such decisions could benefit one or more commission members.

For instance, could a board revoke a license of another auctioneer for the purpose of gaining his market share? Could a rule be adopted which then benefits the members of the board more so than the other auctioneers in the state?

Since the Supreme Court of the United States case Parker v. Brown 317 U.S. 341 (1943), such boards have been immune from claims of antitrust and anticompetitive conduct. Yet, on February 25, 2015 the Court ruled in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission 13-534 that without strict out-of-market supervision and veto power, such antitrust and anticompetitive protections don’t exist.

So not that a board of auctioneers couldn’t rule in a self-serving fashion, but as of February 25, 2015, lawsuits could commence against such members lacking the aforementioned supervision. Rather, if the decisions are those of the state, there are protections.

Finally, what’s the current landscape in this regard? My travels and consults suggest to me that very few self-serving decisions are being made by state auctioneer boards — but unfortunately it can be found. What’s different now — after 72 years — is we have a new law in place today and potential liability.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Hondros College of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.

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