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Can an auctioneer/seller set the terms and conditions for auction registration, and then allow another bidder to bid who doesn’t satisfy those same terms and conditions? While such practice continues, it appears clear it is terribly unwise to do so.

For instance, can auctioneers unilaterally waive bidder qualifications … for anyone? They can, but they shouldn’t:

Bidder qualification provisions are intended for the sole benefit of auctioneers and seller, and create no rights or interests in any other persons, including competing bidders. Auctioneers and/or seller may or may not waive any bidder qualification requirements, either globally or on a case-by-case basis.

It seems clear to us (and many others) that the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia appropriately held that a bidder (buyer) was injured by Alex Lyon & Son, Sales Managers and Auctioneers, Inc. by allowing a bidder with different-than-advertised terms to bid against him to his detriment (injury.)

This Court noted the following:

Finally, as a general principle, all the bidders at an auction must stand upon an equal footing. Accordingly, an auctioneer cannot vary the announced terms of the sale as to some bidders, or any one bidder, to the detriment of the other bidders.

Alex Lyon & Son, Sales Managers and Auctioneers, Inc. v. Leach, 844 S.E.2d 120 (W.Va. 2020)

Here’s our view — there’s no litigation when auctioneers treat bidders to the same terms, and there is litigation when auctioneers don’t: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/06/24/auctions-equal-footing-binding-alike/.

We’ve proposed this same line of thinking before. If the goal is to stay out of court, it is straightforward: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/auctioneers-you-want-win-in-court-or-stay-out-of-court/. If, on the other hand, you have other goals … it’s similarly easy.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, 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 has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.