Auction Laws in the U.S.A.

August 18, 2007

In the U.S., there is no federal law regulating auctions (Thank goodness). Regulation is left up to individual states, as this is how the U.S. Constitution was intended. States have differing requirements on licensing, education, bonding, fees and other aspects of conducting an auction. While, not all states require licensing, most states do have laws and/or regulations covering the auction industry. The Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) was the original basis for auction laws in all states, except Louisiana which only enacted part of the Code.

The Uniform Commercial Code is often quoted when people talk about auction laws, but the U.C.C. is not actually law. A group of lawyers worked on drafting the Uniform Commercial Code for over 10 years (1941-1951) to complete the proposed statute and get it approved by the American Bar Association. The U.C.C. is just a general “code of commerce” that has become a precedent of law, but the Uniform Commercial Code has no legal significance, except that 49 states have drafted most of the U.C.C. into their own laws. The first state to adopt it was in 1951 and the 49th state to adopt it was in 1967. Why only 49 states? Louisiana law is typically based Napoleonic law, while the other 49 are based on English law. (So, Louisiana just has their own way of doing things.)

You can see what the Uniform Commercial Code says in regards to auctions at: U.C.C. § 2-328. Sale by Auction

In addition to the basic Uniform Commercial Code (or parts of it) in each state’s business law, each state may have their own additional laws, modifications or administrative rules that also govern auctions and may also vary somewhat from the actual U.C.C., as originally drafted. You can find a list of State Auction Laws & Auctioneer Licensing Information in the top menu & right-hand column of this page.

If there is no link to your state, then your state may not have state licensing requirements for auctioneers. However, this doesn’t mean that your state does not have laws regulating auctions. If you have information or links to webpages outlining the laws, let me know and I will update the information after verifying the information.

Introduction to Auction Law

August 10, 2007

The intent of this blog is to help others understand the laws that govern auctions and the standards of ethics that must also be held by those in this profession. I decided to use this as a way to dispel myths, misunderstandings and other false perceptions that plague the auction profession.

Auction Law may be a little beyond my actual scope, as I’m not a lawyer, so nothing on this site is intended to be legal advice, but is for informational purposes only (That’s my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it). However, I am an auctioneer. One thing many people don’t understand is the vast range of laws that auctioneers must keep up with and abide by, so as an auctioneer, I do have a pretty fair knowledge of many laws. Your questions are definitely welcome and I’ll do my best to give accurate and honest answers. But remember, it is only my opinion or understanding of the law and is not considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult a lawyer (and no, I won’t recommend one, even though I have two in my family).


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