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We’ve argued that “tie bids” don’t (can’t) exist, and many delight in reminding everyone that they do exist in Kentucky — or so the Kentucky statute (KRS 330.220) says:

If it becomes immediately apparent at the close of the bidding that the auctioneer and a bid assistant or ringman have acknowledged the same bid from different bidders, the auctioneer may continue the bidding between the disputed bidders.

So what’s the mess you ask? There’s no concrete, discernable solution to break the so-called tie. “Continue the bidding between the disputed bidders …” means what?

The auctioneer’s bidder must bid higher? The ringman’s bidder must bid higher? Do they flip a coin? What if both (or all) disputed bidders refuse to bid any more? How is this so-called tie resolved? Kentucky provides no directions.

Ties in life sometimes exist — but if a state is going to hold “that’s a tie” then it’s reasonable to expect they have a solution for resolving such. In this case, they do not.

You can read more about a legal analysis about ties and associated resolutions here: https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1209&context=public_law_and_legal_theory.

It’s prudent for Kentucky auctioneers to note the word, “may” in KRS 330.220 because it’s not required an auctioneer reopen the bidding in this unnecessary instance. Our solution? The bidder the auctioneer had is in and the bidder the ringman had is out.

We wrote about this unfortunate situation (mess) here in 2010: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/aberrant-auction-law-kentucky-10/. We were revisiting as an attorney from Kentucky called me to ask me what, “Continue the bidding” meant?”

As I discussed with him, “Continue the bidding” is basically meaningless with two bidders holding they have had their same bid amount (offer) accepted. He agreed and felt the law probably needs to be rewritten.

Finally, if you claim you will fix this problem with your terms and say, for instance, “The auctioneer’s bidder will be deemed in, and the ringman’s bidder will have to advance the bid …” then you don’t have an actual tie.

Yes, “tie bids” are defined in Kentucky law but the resolution is anything but defined and thus, this is a situation to avoid if you are an auctioneer in Kentucky (or anywhere else.)

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.