Contracts between auctioneers and sellers, consignors, and consignees typically bind the principal to rightfully convey ownership, provide clear title, and that the goods (property) will conform to any expressed descriptions. https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/07/08/the-three-big-auction-warranties/.
The agent (auctioneer) is customarily bound to provide services including property preparation, marketing, bid acceptance, and securing the highest bidder for the subject property.
These contracts between auctioneers and principals are bilateral, in that each party is bound to duties benefiting the other, and is rightfully owed consideration from the other. As such, when I see an auctioneer say something contrary, it gets my attention. For instance:
My contract allows the auction company to void the contract for any reason …
Indeed, agency contracts (acting for another) can be revoked by the principal as well as renounced by the auctioneer (auction company) but only “with cause” to avoid potential liability. What is sufficient “cause?” Maybe the seller isn’t satisfied with the auctioneer’s performance? Maybe the auctioneer isn’t satisfied with the seller’s performance? Is either sufficient?
We have previously held that sellers can withdraw any auction property prior to it being put up for sale and a calling for bids commences. Yet, what’s the cause of such withdrawal? If the auctioneer didn’t perform as promised — would that be sufficient cause?
I don’t know one single auctioneer who wouldn’t expect compensation from a seller who revoked the auctioneer’s authority, but it seems auctioneers regularly hold their right to renounce their role as auctioneer at will with absolutely no consequences — “for any reason?”
This is assuredly part of the overall philosophy that auctioneers can do anything: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/12/26/auctioneer-has-the-right-to-do-whatever/. It seems clear to me that auctioneers cannot do absolutely anything they want — at least without the significant risk of litigation or far worse.
Before you, as an auctioneer, “walk away” without any consideration for what possible damages your breach of contract might cause, consider the possible damages your breach of contract might cause and maybe consider [just this once] the amount of damages you would expect if the situation was reversed.
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 and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.