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We recently wrote about auctioneers reserving unilaterally to decline any bid and any bidder — apparently, even a registered bidder with a higher bid? https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2023/01/03/auctioneer-reserves-the-right-to-reject-any-bid/.

Today, we explore more questionable auction terms and conditions. Could you, for instance, decline any bid or any bidder for “no reason at all?” Maybe a better question is, can an auctioneer do anything for “no reason at all?” Wouldn’t there have to be a reason?

Many that I’ve spoken to in the legal profession pose that “for no reason at all” might suggest the auctioneer doesn’t want to disclose the reason a bid was declined, the auction terms were changed, the bids were canceled, the property disappeared …

In fact, there are some reasons that can’t be used to take action; for instance, counter to contracting, discriminatory acts, prohibited by law, or the like. Otherwise, “for no reason at all” might run counter to one’s implied duty of good faith in contracting.

I’m not sure in my years as an auctioneer, I’ve ever seen terms that allowed unfettered unilateral action to do absolutely anything citing (nor possessing) any reason for such action. However, I have seen it suggested more than once: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/12/26/auctioneer-has-the-right-to-do-whatever/.

Given that possibly any action taken by an auctioneer has a reason behind it, does this phrase have any meaning at all? When a bidder asks, “Why was my bid declined” the answer is “No reason …?” Wouldn’t you as a bidder ask, “But there has to be a reason, or you wouldn’t have refused it, right?”

This is not the first time we have written about auctioneers doing something for “any reason” as if the reason can essentially exist or not. https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/03/05/can-an-auctioneer-breach-a-contract-for-any-reason/.

Here’s what I recommend. Act as an auctioneer with reason. Have a reason for engaging a seller. Have a reason to establish your terms and conditions. Have a reason for registering bidders. Have a reason to take a bid or not. Have a reason to say, “Sold!” In other words, always have a reason.

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.