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In states which license occupations, and in particular auctioneers and auction activity, the law essentially gives permission to conduct auction business within certain constraints such as schooling, testing, fees, etc.

These laws typically then list exceptions to that same law for selling one’s own property, court orders, forced sales, and the like. In other words, you need a license unless …

In a state without this occupational licensing, then auctioneers can conduct business without license law constraints. As such, the principle is that if no license is needed (government restriction) then the activity is allowed.

Accordingly, it’s difficult to find governmental law which expressly permits activity as state and federal law more so exists to only forbid [or regulate] certain actions.

John Grant McKenzie Laws maybe said it best:

For the individual citizen, everything which is not forbidden is allowed; but for public bodies, and notably government, everything which is not allowed is forbidden

Sir John Grant McKenzie Laws

Auctioneers generally deal with a myriad of laws — agency, contract, tort, real estate, vehicles, livestock, ivory, and taxidermy to name only a few. Besides being able to operate an auction business, there are many other considerations.

Yes, governments also write laws noting that they will not … inhibit free speech, for example. To the surprise of many auctioneers, social networking platforms and other media can (and do) inhibit speech.

Further, even free speech rights and the right to “keep and bear” firearms are infringed by regulation and reasonable limits so long as those regulations don’t create an undue burden on those basic rights.

In summary, if you are looking for a law that permits you to do something — versus a law that prohibits you from doing the same — your search may be much more difficult.

Most [governmental] laws deal with prohibiting (and/or regulating) and there’s no prudence in writing all the laws allowing the public (including auctioneers) to do … whatever.

If you’re wondering for example if the “auctioneer may …” hoping so, don’t look for a law that allows it — there’s probably not one, and rather search for a law that prohibits it with hopes you don’t find one.

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.