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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Can an auctioneer/seller deny someone from attending their auction?

Our question today regards an auctioneer/seller denying another auctioneer — or anyone else — from attending their auction.

And the simple answer is, “yes” certainly they can. The authority to deny attendance is housed with the seller for the most part and/or with the auctioneer with both knowledge and consent from the seller (client.)

Further, why would a seller and/or auctioneer want to deny anyone from attending the auction? Don’t they want everyone to be there? Doesn’t one maximize the auction proceeds largely from maximizing the attendance?

But that’s the issue. If a person who wishes to attend is not inclined to help maximize the proceeds by either encouraging others not to bid, causing a distraction — a commotion — or otherwise deterring attendance and/or participation, then he or she is best not there.

For example, a participant:

  1. Jaws (loudly and falsely proclaims about defects or other issues) about property in order to discourage bidding. We wrote more about that here:

  2. Talks about other auctions — in order to encourage other bidders not bid at this auction, and rather at other (or their) auctions.

  3. Creates any type of distraction resulting in other bidders’ attention being diverted from the auction itself. Possibly similar to yelling, “fire” in a theater?

  4. Otherwise disparages the seller and/or auctioneer causing other bidders to doubt the prudence of attending and/or bidding. “You know this auctioneer always misrepresents stuff here …” for example.

We often hear, “But this is a public auction” so anyone is entitled to attend, or that attendance cannot be denied. Yet, a public event is open to all qualified persons and the auctioneer/seller can dictate what qualified means; such might be as simple as an entry fee to proof of funds or other requirement.

Auctioneers are cautioned certainly that entrance cannot be based upon race, color nor ancestry as that would be a prima facie violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. We discussed more here:

As we wrote earlier ( bidding is a right — and not a privilege) so long as one meets the requirements.

In that above treatise, we recommended that those bidding or attendance requirements are applied in a uniform and consistent manner, and it’s best to set those requirements prior to auction, rather than capriciously and arbitrarily at the auction. Too, auctioneers have a limited implied authority to make necessary decisions (adjust that policy) given the seller’s position is in jeopardy.

Lastly, any such denials should be documented and retained in the auction paperwork in the event the issue is litigated. Lack of written proof of the denial criteria would help the rejected party gain an edge in any such claim.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, 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 of Business, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University.

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